It’s hard to believe but the summer is quickly coming to a close. It really feels like the summer is over a little bit faster every year but, like it or not, kids are going back to school, work routines are starting to normalize and most of us are already planning for next years vacation. This is really hard to accept since it is currently almost 100 degrees outside, but I digress.

One of the things that happens every summer is that we all, at least for a week or two, turn into tourists. We throw off the cares and concerns of the rest of the year and try to get to a place that we have dreamed about, often while we were supposed to be working, for the several months prior. It is a funny thing but when we become tourists we dress, act, eat and behave in ways that we would not at any other time or any other place. There is something refreshing about being able to “cut loose” for a few days with little thought beyond this trip. When done right a vacation can help us to rest and refocus for the rest of the year. Can you imagine though what would happen if we never stopped vacationing? It would not take long before we would run out of money, lose our friendships and forget what it feels like to accomplish things that are important. Being a tourist can be wonderful in its place, but it was never intended to be a full-time endeavor.

This is why it is so interesting to observe people who try to live, every day, as tourists. They are not on a constant vacation but live and work and interact with the people in their lives as though they are. It is almost as if they are professional tourists always on the lookout for the next adventure.  What does a professional tourist do?

They visit places

They are always looking for the next place where they can work and live. They are never there long, just long enough to see the sites before they start to look for the next place on the tour.

Collect things

A tourist needs to collect things so that they can remember where they have been and reflect on what they did while they were there. Maybe they collect experiences, or relationships, or opportunities but whatever it is that they collect, they do it for them. They want to have something that proves they have been somewhere.

Talk about where they have been and who they have met

The favorite conversation of a professional tourist is one where they get to talk about where they have been and who they have met. They typically have a story to match the other stories that are being told and find value in the retelling of their adventures.

Lack deep relationship with those from their trips

Tourists often meet people on their trips but since they know they are only there temporarily they never really make deep connections. They know a lot of people and have a lot of places to send Christmas cards but they lack deep relationships. They are never anywhere long enough to really get to know people.

Are uncomfortable with the thought of going home

Professional tourists don’t like the thought of going home. To them home represents a sameness that is boring and a depth of relationship that requires working through both the good and the bad. Home can be anywhere, but the tourist does not want to “settle down”.

As we go through life there will be times when we move, change jobs and get to know new people. Life does not stay static and we will need to adjust as things change. This is different than living always on the lookout for the next thing. The professional tourist is, at his core, discontent with the things that he has and somehow believes that the next place, or relationship or job will bring contentment. Unfortunately, when you are always looking for the “next thing”, you are probably going to find it. And in your pursuit you will lack the depth of life that provides real fulfillment.

What do you need to do if you are a professional tourist?

  1. Acknowledge it. There is nothing morally wrong with living in tourist mode, but it reveals a heart of discontent that steals the joy and purpose that we were created to have.
  2. Ask God to give you a heart of contentment and, when making decisions, always ask yourself if a lack of contentment is driving your decisions.
  3. Limit your exposure to sources (such as social media) that develop a heart of discontent.
  4. Identify the most important relationships in your life (such as family, church, friends) and be committed to developing those relationships.
  5. Find your identity in Christ and not in the externals such as location, experience, or the size of your “Friends” list.

Being a tourist can be refreshing while adding the right perspective to your life. Becoming a professional tourist, though, can steal the joy that a focused life allows. Stop looking for “next” and dive deep into where you are right now.

 

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Jeremy Stalnecker is the Executive Director of the Mighty Oaks Foundation which is dedicated to helping America’s military warriors and their families who are suffering from the unseen wounds of combat. While growing up Jeremy’s only goal was to leave home and join the Marine Corps. This dream was finally realized with an active duty commission in 1999 which opened the door to serve as a Marine Infantry Officer during the opening days of the war in Iraq. One month after returning from Iraq, Jeremy entered full-time ministry and eventually accepted a senior pastor role. He later accepted a full-time position with the Mighty Oaks Foundation which brought together his ministry and military experience in a way that allows him to minister to hurting veterans, service members and their families. Along with his wife and their four children, Jeremy works to reach the hurting and provide healing found in Christ.

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