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In the world of football, there is a clear line between the busy times and the down times. From September to January, there is nonstop action as players hit the practice field, study plays, and dedicate their time to preparing for the next game. Once game day rolls around, they are boarding planes and buses, often traveling through the night to get to the destination where the battle begins. After leaving it all on the field, the lights of the stadium have barely cooled off before they are back to running drills and training for their next face-off.
After five months of constant hustle, the offseason hits. With no more games to crowd their weekly schedules, players have time to regroup – to rest, to train, to focus on improving their game, and to enjoy life outside of the arena.
We all know that life has no offseason, however. Between work, relationships, family, and the slew of odd jobs that occupy our time, we rarely catch a break.
With so many commitments vying for our attention, how do we make sure we don’t burn out?
How do we keep from neglecting the needs of those closest to us? And, most importantly, how do we make sure we keep connected with God?
As a husband, father, NFL veteran, play-by-play broadcaster, and men’s ministry director, Tunch Ilkin knows a thing or two about finding balance in life and managing time. The following is some advice from him about how you can maintain balance in your own busy life.
- Walk with God
“I wake up, get my coffee, and get in the Word. Then, I go over my prayer list of things I don’t pray for regularly, or new people who I need to be praying for. After that, I go out the door for about an hour-long walk and pray for my children, my wife, my family, my friends, and things that are weighing heavily on my heart. One of my favorite guys in the Bible is Enoch, and all I know about Enoch is that ‘Enoch walked with God, and Enoch was no more.’ That statement is probably spoken figuratively, but I take it literally – so, I walk with God in the morning. I long for that. I feel God’s presence. I’m not thinking about emails or phone calls; I am focusing on people I need to pray for, and on giving thanks. When I get that time with the Lord in the morning, it sets the tone for the whole day.” I love what David says in the fifth Psalm, “In the morning Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” David is making an appointment with God, and he intends to honor that commitment. I want to be like that.
- Prioritize Family Time
“From a priorities standpoint, the football season is the toughest. It’s a grind, seven days a week, six months a year. I’m hammering – I come right back, get a quick lift in, and I go right to prepping for my radio show. It’s a fast pace, but I also want to make sure I have a date night with my wife, Karen, and make a point of seeing my children. My sons, Tanner and Clay and I are doing a Bible study on Monday nights, which to me is so great! I’m thankful that they want to come hang out. And I also love to hang out with my daughter, Natalie. I’ll say, ‘Hey, do you want to go get a cup of coffee or go for a walk?’ and we’ll spend that time together.”
“My hobby is working out, and I get that done early when nobody’s up so there’s nothing competing for that time. More than anything else, I work out for my head. I love the martial arts and boxing, and I pound the heavy bag because it takes the edge off of me. It’s funny – I’ll have my quiet walking time with the Lord, then I’ll come right back, head down to the gym and pound the heavy bag between every set I do. Then I feel great! I’m alert, but relaxed – focused and off-and-running. Chuck Noll used to say, ‘You’ve got to will your body.’ If it were easy, everyone would do it, so you’ve got to will your body beyond fatigue.”
- Fight Burnout by Putting the Brakes On
“You know, I don’t realize I’m burned out until I’m worn out. Then, I realized I burn out because I allow my schedule to get away from me. I say yes to too many things because in my mind, I don’t look at the days leading up to and surrounding that date . . . Last year, I was burned out. I don’t want to say I felt physically sick, but I did feel like my stomach was in knots constantly and it was because I was doing too much. All of a sudden, the load lightened up in June. I realized I had let it get away from me, so I said I’m not going to do anything in July. I taught men’s group on Wednesday nights, but that was the extent of it. When I do get burned out, I put the brakes on.”
- Have Fun! Get Away, and Get with the Lord
“In 14 years with the NFL, there were times at the end of the season where I was just plain beat But then I would do things to help that. Friday nights, my late wife, Sharon, and I used to go to dinner and a movie, and Karen and I still do that today. I need that two-and-a-half hour mind dump, and to me, a movie is the best entertainment . . . I also go on a hiking trip every year with friends. We’ve been to Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, Death Valley, Ashville, and parts of the Appalachian trail. There’s something about being out in nature, seeing God’s creation, hiking to the summit of a mountain and looking down saying, “Oh, Lord, thank you. This is beautiful!” That’s another way I get past burnout. I get away and get with the Lord.”
So there you have it – 5 great lessons that you can apply to your life to fight burnout and thrive physically, spiritually and emotionally, even when life never gives you an offseason.