Can doing less actually make you accomplish more?
In the long run, the answer is a big, resounding YES!
I discovered just how dangerous neglecting rest can be back in 2017.
The first quarter of 2017, Gary’s and my schedules were packed with overseas conferences, speaking engagements, and nonstop travel. And when I say nonstop, I mean we were travelling more than we were home, and even when we were home, we were working.
The one thing we forgot to schedule was REST, and at the end of that quarter, both of us were jet-lagged and exhausted. I realized we were on a fast track to burnout. We were saying yes to everything!
Many friends in ministry had urged us to take a sabbatical, but for some reason or another, every year we cancelled, downsized, or scheduled over it.
The sad thing was we thought we were doing the right thing! It can feel like giving, giving, giving is the best thing you can do for the people around you, but unless you’re also taking the time to receive, you can actually end up hurting yourself and them more in the long run!
“Life is a marathon, not a sprint; pace yourself accordingly.” —Andy Burfoot
Gary and I were running ourselves so hard trying to help others that we weren’t much good to anyone. We were too tired to dream bigger dreams with God—we were barely surviving our current workload!
Gary and I finally took a month-long sabbatical in June, and that time of rest and listening to God was one of the greatest choices we’ve ever made. That month break enabled us to help people in a much greater way than we ever could have before when we were trudging along exhausted.
I honestly think if Gary and I wouldn’t have started to prioritize time to REST, we wouldn’t be able to do the things we’re doing today. We may have even quit. Rest is that important!
God’s plan for you is to give from a place of wholeness, not from burnout!
What Keeps Us from Resting?
Many times we don’t rest because it feels selfish, or we mix up laziness and rest. The enemy wants to keep us so busy that we cannot hear God. If the enemy can’t get you off track, he will distract you and keep you preoccupied. You can even be preoccupied with good and healthy activities such as serving in church, working, or being involved in your kid’s school. But if you don’t have time to seek God, how will you discern His plan for you?
Of course, there are seasons when we have to push through a busy schedule, but it’s unhealthy to live your life for years without taking any breaks. Rest is important for your physical, mental, and spiritual health!
Taking a break from the tasks of everyday life gives us time to spend with the Lord. We can seek Him and discern His plan. God wants you to follow Him and seek His plan. He wants you to be in His perfect will for your life, but taking the time to seek it is our role.
We can find an example of this in the Bible. In Luke 10:38-42, Martha is focused on preparing a meal for Jesus and His disciples, but Mary is sitting at Jesus’s feet and listening to Him. Instead of helping her sister in the kitchen, she was listening to Jesus. Martha was annoyed because she thought Mary was being lazy, but Jesus said it was a great thing that Mary did. Martha thought that she was doing what was right, but all Jesus wanted was for her to spend time with Him and learn from Him.
And that’s all Jesus wants from us today! It’s great to serve and be involved in activities, but not if it takes priority over your relationship with the Lord. God wants you to seek Him first and foremost in life. It’s not about how much we serve or how many sports our kids play. You won’t be able to hear from Him if you are not seeking Him.
How to Change Our Mind-sets on Rest
So how do you change your mind-set and allow yourself to rest?
Prioritize what is really important to you—and get it done early. If spending time in God’s Word is important, but you can’t seem to find the time to do it, set aside some time in the mornings to spend with Him. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, or a few days a week, it will make a difference.
Spending time with God is critical to growing in your relationship with Him. No matter what your schedule looks like, you will make time for what is important to you. Whether it’s your career or your kids or watching TV, you make time for what you value most.
- Learn to say “no.”
Learning to say no to things is critical. It can be hard to say no, or to tell your kids no to a good activity. But sometimes it is important to say no to the things we want to do so that we can say yes to the things God has for us.
If we are constantly busy, running from event to event, we won’t have the time or the opportunity to say yes to God when He calls us to something unless we are willing and able to say no to other things.
When an opportunity presents itself to take part in, ask yourself if it is worth it. Is it worth the time and resources you will expend to be a part of it? Or do you need this time to spend with your family, get stuff done around the house, or simply catch up on some sleep?
- Find one day of the week to be your “Sabbath.”
The concept of the sabbath rest can be found throughout the Bible, starting in Genesis 2. Genesis 1 describes God’s creation of the world, and the second chapter begins with:
“So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” —Genesis 2:1-2 (NLT)
Your Sabbath doesn’t necessarily have to be on Saturday or Sunday. If you have an unconventional work schedule, it could be a Monday or a Wednesday. The specific day of the week does not matter, but the concept of having a sabbath is important. Taking a day off each week may force you to increase your productivity the remaining six days. But you will have the entire day to take a step back and collect yourself before the next six days.
And your sabbath rest doesn’t mean you have to do nothing. It just means you have to rest—whatever that looks like for you! Take a day off work and allow yourself to use that time to reorganize and prepare for the week. You can use this time to spend with the Lord, grow in your relationship with Him, and spend it with people you care about. Play a game with your family or find another family activity.
Resting in Christ
Following Jesus isn’t meant to be hard. Trust me, there are times where it can be scary to step out in faith and to seek Him despite what seems logical to do in our own minds. But when you are in the will of God, He will protect you and lead you.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’” —Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
God will provide and lead you every step of the way when you are following His plan. It’s important to rest so that we can have the energy and focus to seek Him. Many times, spending time reading God’s Word will be the first thing we stop doing when we get busy because there is nobody telling us we have to have it read by a certain date, and there are no explicit consequences for putting it off a day or two. Therefore, when you have a day set aside for rest, you can refocus and spend time in God’s Word.
It’s time to start doing less so you can start doing more of what matters!