Hobby Is its standard well-set?

James Howell’s proverb ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ is often quoted everywhere. The adage suggests leisure, recreation and relaxation besides hard and industrious work is necessary to achieve goals in life. The concept of rest is as old as creation itself. In the book of Genesis, we read of the Creator resting on the seventh day after six days of creation of the heaven and the earth. Aristotle once said ‘The end of labour is to gain leisure’. International Labour Standards prescribe fixed hours of work and rest periods to preserve physical and mental health for the working class. A balanced scheme of work or study and engagement in leisure is ideal. Leisure gives scope for an altogether different pursuit. Hobby is defined as ‘A pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation’ (Webster Dictionary). Avocation is as important as vocation in life.
Pastimes are wide ranging – from kite flying to skiing, outdoor sports to video games, bird watching to blogging, fishing to hunting, philately to painting, music to media, Coin Collecting to needlework and so on. One website (notsoboringlife.com) has compiled a long list of 308 hobbies – the list starts with Aircraft spotting and ends with Zumba. In the present era, social media has become a part of everyday life. It is difficult to say whether it is a hobby as it has replaced all leisure pursuits. Now we live in and around a digital world. This sometimes creates a digital deluge, especially among the youth. Therefore, a hobby becomes a natural choice to escape boredom and break the monotony in life.

A Hobby in itself is neutral. It is not sinful to cultivate a hobby or hobbies. Like multi-tasking, a few develop many hobbies. God has given all of us the same number of hours in a day irrespective of our differences. We are responsible and accountable for the time we spend in both our vocations and avocations. There cannot be different principles and yardsticks for activities at work and pastime.

Hobbies should be clean and pure. Much of our entertainment today is rooted in feeding lust of eyes and lust of flesh. Unhealthy entertainment during free time on a continuous basis on media or social media spurs our carnality. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (I Jn. 2:15-16).Hobbies like numerology, astrology, palmistry, face reading and necromancy cannot give us godly fun. They may be lawful but they do not edify anyone.

In this digital age, it is easy for us to get into any type of unheard, intemperate gratification. Young people have faced disastrous ends after following dangerous games online. The Scripture admonishes us not to indulge in practices that draw us away from righteous living. Apostle Paul exhorts not to be conformed to this present world (Rom. 12:2a). Bad practices in hobbies implicitly lead us to serve a different master. We cannot hook into such a hobby that makes us serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). Such a person will slowly start loving and devoting himself to the master of this world and will be distracted from the Good Master. We are not to use our freedom as an opportunity to indulge in flesh. (Gal. 5:13)

Leisure and hobby should be rightly balanced and appropriately placed in life. Healthy hobbies like games and sports have positive influence in us by building camaraderie and team spirit. But unhealthy competition, treating opponent as an enemy and winning by foul means in such pleasurable pastime inculcates wrong approach to life.

Some leisure activities may create extravagant indulgence in us which in turn rob us of our prime time and focus and tend to become idols in our lives. It is not uncommon for some of us knowing more of batting averages in cricket and being more familiar with lives and activities of athletes and celebrities than the life of our Lord. It becomes literally another form of religion when watching television following celebrities becomes an addiction. In the process we neglect our studies and business or jobs. We should lay aside all absorbing and all consuming hobbies that slow us down to run with endurance the race set before us (Heb.12 :1). We may have hobbies but hobbies by no means are to be allowed to have us.

Hobbies provide us opportunities to be creative. A relaxed mind rejuvenates and revitalizes inborn abilities and induces creativity. During this pleasurable pursuit, we tend to think and do things differently as we are not under any stress and we need not conform to any system, procedure or rules. New and fresh ideas are tried and experimented in the process. Purposeful pursuit of pastime gives birth to a new model of product or service which is helpful to the society. Sometimes professionals are born out of pastimes. For we are God’s masterpiece (Eph. 2:10a, NLT).

Hobbies may be considered as gifts from God. We ought to be thankful for rest and leisure time made available to us. Leisure adds to the rhythms of life. Hobby spices our monotonous daily routine. These have resonance on physical and mental agility. We are urged to fix on what is right and profitable. Our pastime should be determinant on a touchstone of things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy ( Phil 4:8-9). The true barometer of pursuing any hobby is to introspect ourselves as to whether the activity diverts us away from our calling and commitment, more importantly, from fellowship and the presence of God.

Whatever may be the activity, whether related to vocation or avocation, do everything for glory of God (1Cor.10:31) and work at it with enthusiasm (Col. 3:23).

Dr. NANDA DULAL, The author is working in a government department and presently lives in Bangalore with his wife Geetanjali and daughter Bonita.

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