It Takes Work To Rest

Photo by Marisa Buhr on Unsplash

Let me introduce my guest blogger: my husband, Mark Burkholder. This article was originally published by Christar International but it is worth sharing with my readers.

I have been Member Care Director for the CMCUS the past five years. By far, the topic about which we most engage with workers is caring for their spiritual and emotional lives, and hence, their overall well-being. We member care folks often quickly ask a question along these lines: So, how are you taking care of yourself? What are you doing to feed your soul?

One of the biggest barriers to overall health and well-being is lack of rest. We are all about work and duty and tasks and responsibilities; yet the dialog about rest and leisure and hobby and exercise is often lacking, or with some folks, nonexistent.

Rather than presenting cute hacks, I offer four guiding principles that assist the dialog about rest while framing it within a theological context.

1. Rest and work are partners.

Rest is a part of our work. We rest better so that we can work better. Rest and work are commonly seen as opposites. In this light, rest is merely the absence of work and devoid of any merit of its own.* Given the resistant and hostile cross-cultural work environments where many of us serve, our reliance on rest intensifies.

God Himself models the partnership between rest and work in Genesis 2:2-3. As I ponder verse 2, I marvel that the God who never slumbers nor sleeps chooses to take a day to rest from His work. Taking an obedient rest gives Him glory as we follow His model for work and rest. Additionally, in verse 3, and later as one of the Ten Commandments, God sanctifies this rest and commands that we take a day off.

How can you more actively partake of this work/rest model as unto the Lord?

2. Rest is active.

We must plan for rest. As such we schedule times of leisure and undergo a weekly Sabbath practice. What gets scheduled gets done. If we don’t provide the hours for relaxation and refueling then it follows that such rest will not occur. Additionally, rest is not just sitting around and napping daily for hours. It is active. True rest rejuvenates and leads to more active engagement in one’s work.

When I coach a mentoree in a Sabbatical process, there is quite a bit of preparation months before the Sabbatical ensues. Such intentional planning ensures that one enters the Sabbatical ready and assured that he/she will rest well.

What schedule changes can you make to incorporate some rest this week?

3. Rest is a skill we learn and experiment with.

To suddenly plan for more rest and expect instant gain will lead us to disappointment. If we have had a steady diet of activity and a go-go-go rhythm, effective rest will present a learning curve. As we grow in our ability to rest, we will select those activities and times that promote our best rest.

What different activity can I try this week?

4. Deliberate rest stimulates and sustains creativity.

There is abundant research that shows a direct tie between rest and more creative/active engagement with our work. Almost all of us in this organization are involved with people and what is known as knowledge work. Such work is not efficiently carried out in a nine-to-five fashion—this is the pattern of the manufacturing sector. Our line of work can tend to wear us out more than we realize.

Further, we are working against the powers of darkness and every evil thing. Working with people in the context of His kingdom work exhausts us quickly. Though we have His power working through us, we are still housed in these bodies and limited to the resources therein. We need to take ample rest and rekindle our souls to most fully glorify Him and persevere in our church planting endeavors.

What can I do to change my mindset about how I take care of my heart (Proverbs 4:23)?

* Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, (Philadelphia, PA: Basic Books, 2016), p 2.

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