It might seem counterintuitive to say that leaders of “missional” community need to practice the art of wasting time. After all being missional usually means being active. However to be on mission means that we are offering people a Kingdom-like way of life, not just a message that will save them from immorality and get them to Heaven one of these days. It means we embody the ways of the Kingdom, which the Apostle Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit. It’s what the Old Testament calls shalom, which means peace, wholeness, and communal well-being.
Aaron’s benediction is helpful here:
“The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace (shalom)”
Old Testament theologian Walter Brueggemann reflects on shalom, connecting it to an experience of God’s presence (see my post on Presence):
“Shalom is perhaps perhaps the quintessential mark of infinity, a counting state of communal well being that is wide and deep and sustainable. The face yields shalom.” (Disruptive Grace, 53)
We don’t live in shalom because we lack the experience of the face of God. Instead we fill life with unsustainable busyness. Often those who are the most committed to God are living in some of the least sustainable ways. We lack free space in our lives to waste time with God, with our families, with our missional community and with those we engage in our neighborhood.
If we are going to allow an experience with God to have a sustaining impact in our lives we must make space for wasting time. For rest. For Sabbath. For sharing laughter and tears. For just being present for others.
Make time to waste time. That’s what missional leaders do.