A Rhythm of Rest

August 12-September 17 Task List
  • Lead mission trip
  • Launch fall small groups
  • Film three leadership training videos
  • Train new Protege

...it's been a long few weeks.

Fortunately, Rachel and I have nine days away from it all in sunny Seattle.  I'm looking forward to a lot of reading, writing, and caffeination.

On tap are a tour of Starbucks headquarters, the troll and the Lenin Statue in Fremont, perhaps a couple of days in nature, a visit to the Space Needle, and did I mention lots reading and writing in coffeeshops?

Not on tap? Checking my work e-mail.

The last few weeks and months are teaching me some important lessons.

There are no "slow" seasons in ministry, only busy seasons and busier seasons, and I know that's a problem not limited to pastors: entrepreneurs, politicians, activists, and many others face the same struggle.

If I, or anyone else with a demanding role, is going to last—to live, love, and lead for a long time—it's going to take a concerted effort to keep a sustainable rhythm.

Notice that I didn't say a sustainable pace.  It's not about making sure you only work 48.5 hours per week every week.  Some weeks will be sixty or seventy hours.  There will be busy days, busy weeks, busy seasons, but don't fool yourself into thinking that every day, every week, every season can be like that.

I suppose there may be a few notable exceptions, a few people who can go and go and go day after day after day, but for the vast majority of us...

  1. We need to balance our periods of intense activity with real rest,
    and
  2. We need to avoid taking on more than necessary during our already busy times.

I could have done a much better job with both of these this year.

I have taken very little down time, very little time to rest.  There's a reason I still have 5+ weeks of vacation this late in the year... I haven't taken any.

And during two of my busy months, May and August, I managed to pile on a lot of extra work, like 30-40 hours of study for an intensive small group and an eight day mission trip.

Without a sustainable rhythm, we're setting ourselves up for burnout or worse, a crash that sets us back years.

Do you have a sustainable rhythm?

When are you resting?

What do you need to change so that you can last a long time?

Photo Credit: Nova77

Work

…or more specifically, ceasing to work. I’m reading Why Guys Need God by Mike Erre right now, and he’s talking about how work is not the result of the Fall, that work is not punishment but that we were always intended to work. His position is that God worked in creation and that our working is a part of our being created in the image of God, which got me thinking…

What does it mean to rest? This may seem like an odd question when reading about work being a part of our very nature, but I don’t have a problem working. I work at work, and when I come home, I work some more. I enjoy work. I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy the projects that I do on the side. My hope is that those side projects will eventually become profitable, and I enjoy the work that it takes to make them so. I especially enjoy the creative aspects of these projects, but when God rested, he rested from creating.

I guess what I’m really asking is, what does it mean to shabbat, to rest, to take a Sabbath. Observing the Sabbath (or at least a Sabbath) was a command that was never rescinded in the New Testament. It’s a commandment that I’m not very good at following. But even if I was good at it, what does it even mean to take a Sabbath? Is it to rest not only from day-to-day work but to rest even from being creative? Woodworking, painting, and building hot rods are all thoroughly enjoyable activities for many, but they are also a form of work? Should we rest even from these on our Sabbath?

I have no good answers on this, only questions.

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