Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

We’re about to begin day 2 of our conference for pastors here in downtown Minneapolis this morning, but the APJ train keep chugging, and we do our best to keep up with your excellent questions. Today’s question comes from Graham in Tennessee: “Pastor John, my question is this: Is it wrong to have hobbies such as hunting, flying, shooting, climbing, or any other number of things that cost a decent amount of money to be able to participate in? These things seem like something you would enjoy God’s creation with, but it is also a lot of money not going toward missions. So where do you draw the line? Should we not do anything apart from things strictly related to ministry or may we enjoy other areas of life as well and split our money between the two?”

Oh, man. I am reading right now biographies and books about and by Hudson Taylor the missionary and I think Hudson Taylor would answer this with pretty blunt come on, come on, come on. Let’s give our lives for this cause. So I have that ringing in my ears and I don’t want to soft pedal by being a, you know, a culturally adapting Christian. But here is what I think I need to say biblically. Yes, some people waste their lives playing. They do. Their whole life is jumping from one fun to the next. That is why all they know to talk about and all they spend their life thinking about is the next toy or the next vacation, the next stunt that they are going to be a part of. And those people give little thought to the biblical truth that their life is not their own. Paul said: You are not your own. For you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body. They act as if they do whatever they please with no reference to the one who owns them or bought them. And those people need to hit pause in their life and ask: Am I really born again? Do I have any of the affections my Father in heaven has? So to me, then, if you operate from that verse, 1 Corinthians six, then you ask about hobbies whether outdoors or indoors. It doesn’t make any difference whether you collect coins or climb mountains. You ask: Is this the Lord’s will for my life that he bought and he owns? And to answer that you ask: Am I glorifying him in this hobby? Is this hobby serving to make him look glorious? Is it making me look like one who values his glory above all?

Paul said: Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, whether you climb mountains or hunt deer or collect coins or do crossword puzzles, do it to the glory of God. Make him look like the treasure that he is in doing it. If you can’t, don’t do it.

Now how does that happen in hobbies or in leisure or in recreation? And I will just mention three ways. One, is the hobby, the leisure, the recreation feeding your own soul with God exalting experiences? Do you see God in it and find your spirit enlivened for him in it? Or is it dragging you down? Is it leading you more distant from him, more indifferent to him, more in love with the world and less in love with him? That is question one.

Question two. Is the hobby, the leisure, the recreation refreshing you physically, emotionally, spiritually, for the other parts of your life where you need energy and focus to live for his glory as part of your vocation, perhaps, or your family? Or is the hobby depleting you and weakening you and making you less able to do that part of your life to the glory of God? That is question two.

So here is three. Are you involving others in your hobby, leisure, recreation so that they are pointed to the glory of God? Is your hobby a means of drawing others into your life for the sake of authentic relationships leading to Christ?

So it seems to me that those are the questions that are more prominent than the amount of time you spend or the amount of money you spend. Time and money are a subset of those questions. So instead of thinking quantitatively, quantities of time, quantities of money, think qualitatively, the quality of your walk with God and the quality of your walk with others. Is the hobby deepening your walk with God and enhancing your witness to others?

Yes, very good questions to think through. Thank you Pastor John. Speaking of the Pastors Conference, which begins again for us in just a few minutes, today will be a rich day. On the schedule are two messages from Sinclair Ferguson, two from Michael Horton, and all four messages can be watched live online at desirinGod.org. You can also watch Pastor John’s biography message of Hudson Taylor which will air tomorrow morning, Wednesday morning, at about 9:00am central time (10am eastern). We hope you can tune in for that. I’m your host Tony Reinke. See you tomorrow.