Work hard, rest properly

Work hard, rest properly

It can be difficult to relax properly. I’m sure you know the feeling, especially if you are usually a very busy person. You take a day off, or a longer period of annual leave, and for the first few days you are a little tense. You find it hard just to read a book or to spend a relaxing afternoon with the family. It feels like you should be doing something. It feels like wasted time to intentionally do less and to have a break from what you usually do.

The fact is, for reasons both mental and spiritual, you need a proper rest.

This is not a mental health blog, but the impact of overwork and being always-on is well known. Burnout and depression are common outcomes if you focus entirely on your work. You end up neglecting other parts of your life that matter.

What I want to point out is that there are spiritual reasons why you should have periods of proper rest and relaxation:

  1. God is in control of the world; you are not

When we feel need to compulsively check emails and just do that little bit more all the time, never being able to switch off properly, you are making a theological statement without realising. You are assuming that it all depends on you. Even if you are a key person in your organisation, you cannot control everything. And, in time, anyone can be replaced. When you take a break and switch off your phone, you are reminding yourself that the world continues without your active input. God is in control, not you.

2. God made us to work and also to rest

The pattern of life God set up was six days of work and one day off. That is important. We should work more than we rest. We are made to be productive. But that one day off matters. It is a subversive act in a world geared up to be always doing more. It means we trust that how God set up the world is right, and it frees up time to worship God and not become too self-important.

On a practical note, it is far better to work hard and rest properly. Too often, we don’t rest well. We are still worrying about work when we don’t need to. We are checking emails on holidays. We are compulsively checking our phones. Don’t do that. Work hard and efficiently when you need to, and rest away from phones and email when you are not working. Otherwise, you are not resting at all, only pretending to rest. Force yourself to read a book or watch a movie, to sit on a beach; just don’t do what you normally do when you work.

3. God made us to enjoy Him and enjoy His world

God’s world is amazing, and the Creator even more so. We need to, as the proverb says, to stop and smell the roses. Rest times give us a relaxed time to pray and sing and read the Bible, but they also give us times to just enjoy a sunset or a garden. We rush around so often and fail to appreciate what is always there. God is good to us beyond our wildest dreams; take time to appreciate that.

We need to rest for all kinds of reasons. When you rest, rest well.