I was a mess. For days sickness had visited my household, each of my children suffering from some kind of stomach and intestine bug. I had held vigil around the clock, assisting them as needed and cleaning up afterward, trying to provide some measure of comfort. But I had reached the end of my strength. As I looked around me to assess all the work that needed to be done, I broke into sobs.
I called my husband on the job for some sort of assurance. (This was before cell phones, and getting a hold of him was a feat in itself.) He kindly suggested, “Why don’t you get some rest. The kids are fine right now.” I hung up the phone, angry at his lack of understanding. I didn’t need rest. I needed to disinfect the house. I needed to plan for the upcoming Sunday worship service. I needed to complete the 25 things on my to do list.
Looking back 20 years, I smile at my absurdity. My husband was right. I really did need rest. I just couldn’t see it then.
So many of us find it difficult to rest. Difficult is probably an understatement. Our culture idolizes busyness. We may not like being so busy, but we accept it as an inevitable way of life. We run on a hamster wheel, not going anywhere, but at least we’re still moving. Sometimes we just need to get off the hamster wheel, stop, and re-calibrate.
Some of us are ambitious and driven. We are intentional about our activities, and prioritize our calendars, but we overestimate our own physical abilities and stamina. Everyone around us suffers, because we are sleep deprived and our blood sugar is low. We keep going until we get the job done, or until we hit the wall of exhaustion, which ever comes first (but the job had better be done when we stop). We need to remember that sometimes it’s okay to rest.
Where has God placed you as a leader? To be an effective leader, you must have rest. You are not meant to carry the weight of the mission on your own shoulders alone. Be faithful and responsible. Do not become prideful and think the mission cannot be accomplished without you. Yes, you are important. No, you are not indispensable. Failure to rest can be a sign of pride and lack of trust in the Lord.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9, NLT).
To be honest, I am writing this as a reminder to myself. I am thankful for my friends who encourage me not to push myself quite so hard, and for my husband who loving mentions when I’ve spent too many late evenings at the office. As you read this, I hope that you are also challenged. Your family, your job, your ministry is a gift from the Lord to steward well. Take time to rest your body and soul, so that you can thrive as a leader.
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).
Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me to follow You in building Your Kingdom. I take your calling seriously and am passionate about fulfilling Your plans. Help me to honor and trust You by taking time to rest. Remind me that I am not in control. You are. I am blessed to partner with You in this great work. Every good and perfect gift comes from You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.