In our society we tend to think of a busy schedule as a badge of honor, rushing from one activity or event to the next. We work long hours. We have family obligations. There is an ever-growing list of chores and errands in the back of our minds. We see busyness as productivity but in reality, it does more harm than good. As coaches, we can see when a client is struggling with busyness and can plant a seed for necessary rest.
I recently returned from a four-week holiday (mini-sabbatical) in Melbourne, Australia to spend time with my family and friends. If you don’t know, I am married to Gina, an Aussie; her parents and extended family live “down-under”. It was an amazing time! We took a couple of overnight trips, went to the Broadway production of Hamilton and enjoyed some needed down time. I came back with a greater appreciation for the necessity to periodically, completely unplug from everything possible connected to work and ministry. This allowed my soul and mind to sabbath.
The Need for Rest
If you need proof that we all feel busy and are in need of rest, conduct this experiment: ask ten people how they are doing and just keep track of the responses. How many times out of 10 do you estimate you will receive an answer involving their crazy day or week? 60%? 70%? Most of the time, the answer I get sounds something like this: “I’m so busy – but everything is good.” I would estimate that I hear that response at least 90% of the time.
Self Reflection Questions:
- How would you answer that question: “How are you doing?”
- Did you respond with some form of the answer above?
- What is keeping you up late at night or waking you up in the middle of the night?
How did we get here?
But why are we so busy? Are we taking the time we need to rest, reflect and enjoy the present? Most of us push ourselves harder than we should; we say yes to too many things, we overstretch our time and energy. I put together this list of potential reasons we stretch ourselves beyond our capacity:
- Unaware of our limitations
- Addiction to busyness
- Unwillingness to stop
This final reason might require some explanation. Faithlessness is something that I struggle with. I like to keep my world under my control – or at least live with the illusion that I have control. When I am at my best, I sleep well. When I try to make things happen in my own strength, anxiety wakes me up in the middle of the night, worrying me about things that are out of my control. What it really comes down to is that I am not trusting the Lord. I’m relying on my own ability to get things done and not resting in the fact that the Lord is active in my life.
Where there is trust, there is rest
Exodus 14:14 states, “The Lord will fight for you: you need only to be still.”
Here is the context for the verse:
But Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the LORD’s salvation, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
You might be reading this today and need to hear these words. However, being told or encouraged to rest is one thing; internalizing the need for a break and taking action is quite another. I encourage you to take some time every day this week to rest.
Try both Passive and Active Rest:
Passive Rest includes:
- Power naps: 6-20 minutes in length
- REM naps: 90-plus minutes.
Active Rest includes:
- Physically: deep breathing, stretching
- Meantally: meditate, gratitude, listen to soothing music
- Socially: family, friends
- Spiritually: prayer
Dr. A’s Habits of Health (pgs. 407-408) by Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen
One habit I have found helpful in putting my mind at ease is physical activity. When I combine physical activity with meditation, my soul is fed and my body processes the stress that has built-up. An activity I’ve engaged in over the years is Holy Yoga. Did I lose you? Actually, my wife Gina is a certified instructor and has a platform that provides guided meditation throughout the practice. This has been life-giving during Covid. I look forward to my early morning practice on the back patio with the hillside as my backdrop. It gives me a chance to settle my heart and mind, focus on movement and meditate on the Lord’s goodness. It makes my devotional time in the morning more interesting than simply sitting and taking in scripture – it allows me to knead the Word into my soul.
5 Tips to Make Rest a Priority
- Commit to 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night
- Begin to wind-down about 30 minutes before going to bed
- Take a health assessment with a health coach
- Turn off all devices 1-3 hours before going to bed
- Ask your spouse to support you or get on the same time schedule if possible
Coaching for Rest
It is one thing to tell a person that they need to get rest – it is quite another to help them discover it for themselves. Here are 7 coaching questions to help guide a person through their physical health journey:
- Describe “why” it is important for you to focus on getting adequate rest.
- How is your “why” compelling?
- What does success in your rest look like?
- Identify your greatest challenges?
- What changes do you need to make to reach your goal?
- Who do you know that can help you on your journey?
- What is one simple thing you can do that will help you get started?
The 4th Commandment
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
What does the 4th Commandment teach you about work?
I finish with this response to the question above, taken from The Anglican Catechism:
“My work is a gift of God that can grant me provision and satisfaction, and serve the common good, but neither defines my life nor rules over it.”
Who or what defines you?