Living by The Well


We are coming up for 24 years in Christian leadership this year. Almost half of my life I’ve been leading churches or Christian organizations of some sort or other. We started as we got married and apart from a few extended breaks we have been at it non stop for that time.

In the early years I would run like crazy, crashing my way thru whatever I found difficult and cleaning up the mess afterwards (or not). When it came to re-energising and living sustainably I didn’t really think about it. I was young, determined and tireless. But I was also like the sprinter with no form. Lots of body parts flailing wildly, but the actual forward movement was not that exciting.

As time went on and our marriage took some massive hits as a result of my workaholism I started to become quite disciplined with my re-charging. Regular sabbaths, a scheduled and fairly non negotiable day off during the week as well as time to go off in retreats formed the basis of my re-energising. This worked and got some sanity back in our lives but it was a discipline because I still felt compelled to change the world.

In this phase of life I seem to have changed tack yet again. The shift has been  more intuitive than intentional but as I was talking with friends the other day I found myself describing how we recharge these days like this: 

Rather than taking time out to go ‘back to the well’ we now seek to ‘live by the well’. 

We aim to live in such a way and at such a pace that we are close to the source of life and able to draw from him as needed. It inevitably means fewer ‘mountain top’ experiences but it also means fewer times of significant disconnection and wandering into unhealthy places.

When I say ‘living by the well’ I’m simply speaking of a way of approaching life that is more integrated and seamless, rather than segmented into work and rest. It’s not without its challenges because when life does get busy we don’t have strict schedules to protect us, but the reality is that we are much at better at managing our time and being careful with what we say yes to.

I think different approaches to sustainability work for different people – and may be appropriate for different stages of life – but I find where we live now and the way we allow life to flow together has helped us become more whole as people as well as allowing our leadership to be less driven and a whole lot more attractive.

I wish I’d known how to live a more integrated life at 30, but then I think I would have perceived me as lazy then…

2 thoughts on “Living by The Well

  1. Good post, Hamo.

    I think I know what you mean by “living by the well” and, when I look back on my life–even when I was younger–I think I actually have spent most of it living by the well. I’ve watched friends rush after this or that through their lives but I guess I always knew what I wanted to do with mine: be a good husband, a loving father, a careful saver, an honest worker, a friendly neighbor, a lifetime learner, and a healthy human being. In the eyes of most it is a dreadfully boring life. And that’s a pretty accurate statement.

    I know there are opportunities at “significance” that I’ve passed up. I’m sure there are things that I could have had a greater impact with if I had stepped off the path and made them my *passion*. I’m not the guy who is the center of attention because he is “awesome” at this or that. I’m not very interesting at parties but people like me because I exhibit that rare trait of actually being able to listen to another (as opposed to waiting for them to stop so I can say what I want to say).

    Life at the well isn’t interesting but I find that when I talk to others they seem to thirst for a life that is simpler and uncluttered. They live chasing after the wind and cannot seem to recognize the still, quiet places that exist all around them. I haven’t met many “chasers” who are “happy” with their lives. But, beside the well, I find a lot of folks who wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Good luck with your new stage of life.

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