Play as Work

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Andrew Gurka ropes square

Recreation, simply put, is the grown-up way of saying “play.”

Play relieves stress, increases physical and mental fitness, and introduces new ways of learning. And the public is becoming more aware of the benefits of recreation as part of a healthy lifestyle. But in a world filled with “go-getter” attitudes, competitive spirits, and the drive for “keeping up with the Joneses,” where is there time for leisure and play?

I have often wondered this myself. A college senior and an avid lover of the outdoors, I would much rather go hiking, spend the day rock-climbing, or even sit in a tree and read than go to work or class. As I draw closer to entering the work force, I view my future with significant trepidation.

Most discussions with working adults who intend to offer their advice and support for my future include the forewarning that “college is the best time of your life, so have fun now.” While I appreciate their concern, I can’t bring myself to believe that God calls us into careers that bore and frustrate us on a daily basis.

I deeply believe that, though this earth is broken due to the fall, God works in and through us so that we can experience His goodness in our everyday lives. That includes work. Recently, I began to realize the potential for recreation itself to be a kind of work that shows this goodness.

Imagine this scenario. Your office team has been working on a big project, and while the deadline is rapidly approaching, advancement has suddenly stopped. Unfortunately, the team seems unable to refocus as a unit to finish this project. Your boss decides to send everyone to a team-building workshop. You spend the day on a ropes course having fun and playing games that challenge you and the team mentally and physically. The facilitator works through the elements to increase communication, encourage negotiation, highlight varied strengths and weaknesses among the team, and promote overall ability to function at a higher level together. The next day at work you not only have some valuable memories and laughable moments to reflect upon, you also have an experience to draw from that sets you back on track for completing that big project on time.

I am a Parks and Recreation major. My career goal is to glorify God through play. As I look to my future, I see the opportunity to be the facilitator in the above scenario.

God is glorified by people experiencing a community that knows and cares about its members. God is glorified by people discovering the strengths He has given them and how to use those strengths. God is glorified by children and adults learning in nontraditional methods about valuable skills such as teamwork, acceptance, forgiveness, endurance, and patience; all skills that can be developed through experiential education activities. That is why I see this scenario, and others like it, as a way for me to glorify God.

I still expect life after college will be a lot of hard work. Life in college is a lot of hard work. More importantly, I’ve realized that the key to enjoying my future as much or more than the present will be to choose every day to find some little way to play, and then use that moment to serve others and glorify God.

Image by Andrew Gurka. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post written by Brittany Tietje, a senior majoring in Parks and Recreation Management.
This article is the first of four in a series that will introduce the next generation of young professionals to our High Calling readers.