We are busy, responsible people. That’s a good thing. God expects us to be good stewards of the things he’s given us and honors hard work. But, as Solomon noted, there’s a time for everything under the sun, a time to work, and a time to take a break. The scripture calls it Sabbath, which at its root means: Cease, desist. As Jesus explained, the Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around. It isn’t meant to be a religious straitjacket. It’s meant to bring restoration, to put back in what six days of life takes out.
The problem is that we aren’t very good at it. Once the belt is moving beneath our feet it’s hard to get off the treadmill. Here then are four reasons resting is hard for us to do along with some suggestions on how to build rest back into your schedule.
First, we feel guilty when we relax. We live in one of the most productive societies in history. Our cultural value system idolizes productivity, makes a god out of it. If I’m not aggressively using my waking hours to “make something happen” I’m going against the grain and feel out of sync with the rest of the world.
Rest Suggestion One: Give yourself permission to smash the productivity idol. Offer your rest up to God as an act of worship.
Second, we live passively. We are led around by life instead of leading ourselves through life. But our lives are a stewardship from God. We care for them and invest them on His behalf. We need to be proactive about how we spend them.
Rest Suggestion Two: Think of time as a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills. Would you leave it open on a picnic table in the wind, or bank it and figure out how to invest it? That’s what I thought. Do the same thing with your time and you’ll find time to rest.
Third, the ability to rest is a values decision. Dodge tells me I can’t be macho unless I drive the newest RAM truck. Apple tells me I won’t be cool till I have the Apple Watch. Disney tells me I won’t have family fun till I take my kids to Disney World. But my checkbook tells me I can’t have those things unless I work two jobs. So what do I value more?
Rest Suggestion Three: Figure out what you value most and budget your life accordingly.
Finally, as soon as I figure out what I value most, rest becomes a boundaries decision. Our physical, emotional and spiritual energies are finite, limited. “The need to establish boundaries that allow us to say no is a mathematical necessity,” said Richard Swenson. We can’t fill all the demands and expectations of family and friends and colleagues. So we have to learn to say “no” gracefully.
Rest Suggestion Four: Give yourself permission to say no. As you do, your energy margins will increase and you will have more to give to the people that matter.