An Overlooked Discipline

Play

During a coaching session not too long ago, I received an unusual answer to the question “what do you want to work on today?” My client had worked on several leadership challenges and chose this day to respond “Scott, I don’t have any recreation in my life. I don’t do anything for fun.”

He didn’t have any play time.

So that is what we worked on.

When we talk about the concept of play, it tends to get relegated as something children do. But the need for play does not end with childhood.

In his book Play, Stuart Brown discusses how our bodies are designed to need periods of play. Playing is a way to sustain relationships, boost creativity, and increase innovation. There is something that happens in our minds and spirits when we intentionally take time to release our grip on the urgent and productive.

During his TED talk, Peter Gray reveals the correlation between the development of children (and adults) who play and levels of empathy, ability to problem solve, and increased creativity. Without playing, there is an increase in anxiety, depression, and narcissism.

Setting aside time for recreation or play is related to identity. When your worth is based on outcomes or performance, it can be nearly impossible to temporarily step away from roles and responsibilities. That can be a good indicator that there is an issue – if you feel like you are too important to take some time for refreshment and to recharge.

Of course there can be problems with play that need to be avoided. Play can be used as an escape when circumstances get overwhelming. Also, play can be used as another way to build identity when it becomes necessary to keep score, improve performance, or be better than someone else at whatever activity is being engaged in. I’m not saying don’t try to take strokes off your golf game, but be aware if it becomes an issue of worth for you.

The need to play is part of our design. The God who loves you and delights in you has given play as a gift. It is a necessary part of your life and discipleship.

Use healthy times of play as a way to connect with God and feel His presence.

When was the last time you enjoyed recreation?

What do you like to do that will free your mind and body to be creative?

When can you schedule a time to play?

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I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Tree of Lies: Transforming Decisions, Behaviors, and Relationships By Gaining Perspective On Your Identity in Christ.

Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching,  speaking at organizations/churches, workshops on marriage/discipleship/leadership, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.

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