Engage & Disengage

The phrase, “Engage and disengage,” has been part of my vocabulary since I first heard it during orientation weekend for Asbury Theological Seminary’s D.Min. program back in January 2004. The phrase came from Dr. Anthony Headley.

The idea is, our lives must include rest, as well as work. We must not only engage (work), but also disengage (rest).

In recent weeks, particularly during vacation a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been reflecting on this idea. There’s a rhythm to engaging and disengaging. It’s the rhythm God instituted in creation — work six days, then rest. Sabbath provides opportunity to disengage.

It’s also a rhythm Jesus modeled. The gospels are full of stories showing Jesus engaging, but they also reveal examples of Jesus disengaging. I’ve always loved Luke 5.16 …

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Jesus modeled both engaging and disengaging.

So, I’ve known this phrase for the past eight years, and I’ve known the importance of disengaging, but I’m learning that disengaging is something I need to do better. I’ve realized recently that typically, even when I disengage, I’m often still engaging. For example, if I take a break, I might take a break with a book or my iPad. Basically, even though I’m taking a “break,” I’m still engaging. This is what led to the first two items in my post, 3 Steps I’m Taking to Manage Stress Better, to rest more and to play more (especially with my kids).

So, these days, I’m working on developing the practice of disengaging. The funny thing is, disengaging (i.e., living according to God’s rhythm) makes us more effective when we are engaging!

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