Wouldn’t it be nice to not be so busy?
Talk to most believers and you will find their lives are marked by busyness. After all, time is short, and there’s much to do to build the kingdom, right?
But, work for the kingdom might be one of the excuses believers use for not making room in their schedules for rest and silence. A failure to slow down, get still, and get quiet seems to be a human problem, more than just a problem for those who serve God.
It’s no doubt we, as a culture, operate on less margin in our schedules and refuse to say “no” to added work and opportunities, thereby failing at what should be most important to us – rest, relationships, and revering God.
Pastors are burning out at an alarming rate. Church leaders, whether paid or volunteer, constantly feel overscheduled, if not burdened, with the demands of ministry. And Americans, in general. are the most medicated people in the world – due to high-blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, physical ailments, aching muscles, and so on. Could it all be attributed to our inability to rest and be still?
God’s Word never instructs us to “Hurry up,” “Move faster” or “Work harder.” Rather, the Holy (not harried) One instructs us to “Wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14), “Be still” (Psalm 46:10), and “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus, even turned down an opportunity for more ministry by telling His followers, who were tired from a full day’s work of serving, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
As believers, we are not to conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2), yet we talk, live, and even view our spiritual lives as if we were constantly-running devices that never need to recharge. For instance, how many times have you said or heard these words:
- “I need to unplug for a while.”
- “It’s time to defrag after all that inputfrom Sunday’s message.”
- “I’m fried. I just need to recharge my battery.
- “Let’s reconnect when you get a chance.”
- “I received a download from God this morning.”
You are more than a device that needs to defrag, disconnect, or unplug. You are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But, if you’re constantly monitoring your productivity and output, and operating like a machine – taking only minimal hours to recharge– how will you learn to enjoy God’s presence, grow more intimate with your Creator, and produce eternal results for His kingdom? And if you think that being busy in ministry is godly, or an excuse for being over-scheduled, consider this: God is a God of relationship, not a taskmaster, and He would rather have us spend time with Him, than do a bunch of things for Him.
If you find yourself complaining that you “don’t have enough time in the day” or you’re “burning the candle at both ends,” you are clearly attempting to do more than God has called you to do. God has given us the exact number of hours in a day that we need to eat, sleep, work, rest, and enjoy life with Him and one another. If you find yourself running short on hours in the day, you’ve overused – or misused – what you’ve been given.
Recent studies have found the more people work (and the less time off they take) the less productive and creative they tend to be. In Scandinavia, many companies are urging their employees, who already get four weeks a year of legally-protected paid summer vacations, to take even more time off, and they are urging managers to set the example by doing the same.
If rest helps a person’s overall work ability, how much more will it impact our worship ability and our relationship with the living God?
Next week I will give you four reasons it’s so difficult for us to slow down and rest and what to do about it. In the meantime, slow down, do your best, and trust God with the rest – literally.
(For more on this God who would rather have you spend time with Him than do a bunch of things for Him, see my books When Women Long for Rest, and When You’re Running on Empty, both on sale now in my website store.)