Theology Thursday: How Do We Glorify God in Our Hobbies?

Woman playing with clay

Typically, a topic like hobbies is not coupled with a phrase like “glorify God.” Hobbies are — by definition — things we do for pleasure, and certainly nothing that we would do for pleasure could glorify God, right? It is too unspiritual. It is too worldly. Of course, we will still do them, but that is because they are just part of the ordinary things we must do to cope in this world before we “kick the bucket” and go to heaven.

Might there be, however, another lens to view our hobbies that could make them part of our life lived for God’s glory? If Jesus is Lord, he is certainly so while we are doing our hobbies. While nothing I am going to say here should be taken as law or authoritative, I want to process this question to see if there is a biblical lens to view it through.

In This Article: 

What Are Hobbies?

To start, we always need to define our terms, and the typical definitions of a hobby include something like (1) regular activities, (2) done outside of our occupations, and (3) for relaxation and pleasure. So, these activities may involve a kind of effort, but they are not a part of the work we do to support ourselves or our families. Additionally, our hobbies are things we do purely because we enjoy or are interested in them.

Do Hobbies Have a Place in the Christian Life? 

Given this definition, when considering whether hobbies have a place in the Christian life, the category that comes to mind is Sabbath. The Sabbath principle involves rhythms of work and rest. One has six days of productive time and one day of unproductive time. It is a time when we are to cease from all our self-sustaining or wealth-generating toil as an act of faith in God the provider. It is a time to stop working. It is to be kept holy, that is set apart, as a day for the Lord.

The Sabbath is a command and so an act of faithfulness. However, this obscures the point for many. In Jesus’ confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees of his day, he had to combat the notion that the Sabbath was a strict burden where any activity could transgress into the unlawful. He reminded them that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27) and that it was good to “do good” or “save life” on the Sabbath (Matt 12:12; Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9). We might conclude that the Sabbath was not meant to be the complete cessation of activity, but the cessation of self-sustaining toil.

Guidelines for Hobbies

Suppose it is right to put hobbies into the category of Sabbath activities. In that case, here are three potential guidelines to keep them glorifying and honoring to God. Again, these should not be taken as law but guidelines and helpful questions to ask ourselves.

1. Avoid Making Your Hobby a Money-making Activity

There is a temptation to make your hobby a money-making activity or a side-hustle. Once we’ve done that, it is no longer a hobby. It is a second job. This is fine to do, but it no longer fits in the category of hobby or of Sabbath rest and instead becomes a self-sustaining or wealth-generating work. Aside from any concern for glorifying God, we run the risk of taking something we once loved doing and turning it into toil. What was once restful and refreshing can become exhausting.

2. Avoid Letting Your Hobby Become an Obsession 

There is another temptation that comes with our hobbies and that is when they grow out of proportion. As an illustration, it may be fine for someone to play video games during their downtime, but when we start to see play that becomes compulsive and interferes with work and with relationships, it is no longer healthy. So, our hobbies should have their place. If we find that our minds are preoccupied, they start to encroach on our work, they start to isolate us from important relationships, or begin to drain our finances, they are likely no longer honoring and glorifying to God.

3. Be Sure Your Hobby is Restful and Life-giving 

There are certain questions we can ask to help determine whether our hobbies are good for us and for others, such as: Does this activity tend toward virtue or vice? Is it making me and the people around me healthier and happier? Does it energize me or drain me? Does it breathe life into my relationships, or does it suck the life out of them?

Glorifying God In Our Hobbies

How do we glorify God in our hobbies? We must recognize that the Bible does not speak directly to the issue. We must also recognize that hobbies assume a certain amount of margin and leisure in one’s life that may not be a given for everyone. For example, those in poverty or deteriorating health may have very little time or energy to even consider a hobby. So, we should be grateful and generous, treating our hobbies as gifts of grace rather than entitlements. Hopefully, this reflection helps to put our hobbies in a biblical framework where they may be done faithfully and for the glory of God.

Read more Theology Thursday blogs and check out other degree programs and theology minors. Visit GCU’s College of Theology and fill out the form on this page to learn more.

Approved by faculty of the College of Theology on May 1, 2024

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.