Believe it or not, rest is a difficult concept for many of us to grasp. I have struggled with the idea of rest for most of my life. Even though the Lord established a pattern of work and rest throughout scripture, many leaders who are driven to succeed do not adequately maintain a healthy work-rest balance.
God initiated a pattern for work and rest when He rested on the seventh day at Creation. Rest remains a great need in us even today. Mark 6:31 says, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Occasionally, we need to be able to step back and remember that we are designed to take a break; we are designed to rest.
I’m specifically talking about strategic rest for this last season of the year. This is my final blogpost of 2021. I’ve chosen and planned in advance to take the month of December off from content creation so that I can rest. I think it’s been a tremendous year. I’m eight months into starting my YouTube channel, podcast, and blog. I’ve had a great start, but I think it’s now time to spend a few weeks resting.
In this blogpost, I want to share more about rest, including the most important ingredients to maintaining consistent, adequate rest. At the end, I’ll share with you the absolute biggest key to making rest a reality in your life.
In the Old Testament, God promises rest; in the New Testament, God teaches us how to enter into that rest. It all starts with having Jesus Christ in our lives. It’s in His presence that we find true rest, a spiritual rest. That spiritual rest will eventually manifest as a physical and practical rest if we’re truly maturing and growing as disciples of Christ.
Most people live life to the extreme. They are tired. They don’t receive adequate sleep. They have too much on their plates, and they continually experience burnout. Though this is the way many of us live our lives, the reality is, everyone needs to rest. There are several reasons why rest is so important.
First, your key relationships, especially those with your family, deserve your best efforts. At a time when families are disrupted and unsettled, we as Christian leaders need to set the example by investing consistent, quality time in our families and other important relationships. There is no way that this will happen if we don’t allow time away from our work and busy schedules to rest. When there’s no time for rest, our closest relationships are generally the first to suffer.
Second, if we’re always exhausted from inadequate rest, we cannot give our best energy to the task we’re trying to complete. It’s amazing how the worst comes out of us when we’re tired and stressed. In order to reduce those disruptions, we must rest.
Third, when we rest, we remind ourselves that we aren’t superheroes. It doesn’t matter how talented you are; it is NOT the will of God for you to do everything. It is prideful for you to think that your ministry, organization, or church can’t operate without you for a period of time. If that truly is the case, then there are greater things that you need to work on.
I want you to ask yourself, “When was the last time I wasn’t busy?” I was thinking about this question the other day as I prepared for this post. If someone asks me how I’m doing, my answer is usually, “I’m good but really busy.” It is true; I am really busy much of the time. Therefore, if I’m not intentional about rest, I’m always busy, often too busy.
Since many of us are addicted to being busy, busy has become the new normal. We default to being busy.If you’re in a constant state of busyness, it’s imperative that you figure out how to change something in your life. I’m here to tell you that it is possible to be highly productive, but not too busy. It’s a mindset shift, and I have a few tips that will help you make this shift so that you can intentionally rest.
1. Understand the difference between being busy and being productive.
Busy people are exhausted and overwhelmed. Productive people perform excellent work but also enjoy life and live in the moment. Shifting your mindset is necessary in order for you to give yourself permission to do good work as well as rest and enjoy life.
2. Think, "I choose to."
The Lord made us with the ability to choose. So, instead of thinking “I’ve got to”; think, “I choose to.” Despite how you may feel at times, you’re in control of what you do with your time and energy. When you make this mental shift, you're essentially taking responsibility for your actions and all of the things you're doing and not doing. Understanding this concept will allow you to respectfully and kindly say “no” to anything that keeps you from having a healthy work-rest balance.
3. Actively say, "no."
If we desire to have adequate rest, we have to learn to actively say “no” to anything we don’t want or need. Remember, the Lord created us with the ability to choose; therefore, we can say “no” when it's needed. I do understand that we all have to do things we don’t enjoy from time to time if we desire to be a team player, to keep our organizations running, and to make progress in life; however, there are many frivolous things we need to say “no” to in order to establish margin and rest in our lives.
4. Don’t lose control.
We lose control when we take on too much and don’t make space to rest. Pace yourself; take on the right tasks and events in your life that make you successful and productive.
I love to take time with my kids engaging in leisurely activities like softball, baseball, and hunting. There are other things that I enjoy doing, but I don’t take on too many of those things at one time. I also don’t allow those things to push out some of the most important things in my life, like involvement in my local church and participation in my friends’ and family’s lives.
When you are out of control, you lower your ability to rest, including your ability to find mental rest. Losing control impacts your productivity and decreases your overall enjoyment of life.
5. Live with purpose.
If you’re not clear on your purpose in life, it’s almost impossible to say "no" to the wrong things and "yes" to the right things. Without clarity of purpose, we take on too many things that leave us busy and unfulfilled. What do you feel the Lord wants you to achieve in your lifetime? Who are the people that will help you get there? What are the things you need to do in order to move in that direction? When you become clear about the things you should be doing, you become much clearer about the things you shouldn’t be doing.
6. Embrace your limits.
I think the absolute biggest key to making rest a reality in your life is embracing your limits. It takes humility to embrace and respect those limits as well as the ability to recognize that you can’t do it all and understand that you do have limits. Make it a priority to embrace your limits!
Let me introduce you to a practical exercise that will help you create time to rest in December. I want you to ask yourself these questions:
1. What are the top three most important things I want to accomplish in the month of December? Think about the big picture and what will move you toward that big picture.
2. What can I remove from my to-do list and schedule that doesn’t help me achieve those three things? There may be many things that would be “good” for you to do, but they may not line up with those three most important things you need to do. If you’ll remove those extraneous things, you will create the margin and space in your life to accomplish the things that you need to accomplish.
3. How can I create opportunities for rest each week in the month of December, and what things do I need to do to protect that rest? Be purposeful about creating moments of rest within your week by saying “no” to things that do not help you achieve the priorities on your to-do list. Protecting those moments of rest will help you stay focused on the important things you want to accomplish.
Having a healthy work-rest balance is a godly principle reflected in scripture. I encourage you to take time for rest in the last month of this year so that you can enter 2022 with renewed purpose and vision.
Copyright © 2021 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.