I was terrible at this for years. Rest was for people who just couldn’t handle a real workload. If you went home at 4 p.m., it was because you really weren’t committed to the cause.
There was a strange justification that happened in the back of my mind that told me the harder I worked, the more pleased God would be with me. After all… I was doing his work. And if you were working for God, why wouldn’t you give it everything you had plus 30%?
People would tell me all the time: Your pace is unsustainable. You’re going to burn out. I just ignored them. I thought I was stronger than that, and the strange thing is, for the most part, I was. I could sense burn out and pull back from the edge just in time. And for years I just ran in overdrive.
But I’ve come to realize some things:
Just because you don’t burn out, doesn’t mean you don’t miss out. I told my oldest son that if I could get one thing back in life it would be some of those hours when he was in elementary school. We’ve had some great times together over his adult years (as we did when he was very young), but I can’t get his formative years back. God redeems time, but I’d love to get some of those hours back.
Rest is a gift. It’s also great strategy. We all know that God rested on the seventh day. But life was also designed with regular pauses scripted in. There was to be no work done once every seven days. And if you’ve ever read the Old Testament, you might realize God loves a party. There were regular holidays, festivals, and even mandated celebration in Old Testament life. For us A types, remember: God wants us to enjoy life. As the creators of our bodies and souls, he also realized that we function best when we’re rested and full of good things. Most of us realize that we’re not nearly as productive on hour 12 of a day as we are on hour one. Pay attention to that. Rest is also a strategy. We’re so much better at work when we’ve rested.
In what ways are you tempted to cheat rest? Why do you think this is true of so many leaders?