Rest, to Reenergize, to do good work

Friends, it’s time again for our mid-day reflection on Fridays as we fast. Today, following on from our ruminations of last week about being overwhelmed, I’ve been considering “Rest”. We are so busy doing good work, that in some respects, simply continuing the treadmill makes us even more overwhelmed, and takes meaning away from even the good things we do.

I’ve found it is easy for doing good to become tiring, and painful. How can doing a good thing become hard? Simply by giving of ourselves without refreshing. Every time we care deeply about something, or we “try” at something, it takes energy. Even thoughts can consume energy. And that is the key to understanding why we are exhausted after a day at the office. We are not exhausted from physical work – after all, a great majority of us work at desks, where our most physically demanding activity is to walk to the water cooler. We are exhausted from the emotional and mental toll that our work takes on us.

I personally have witnessed friends who are entrepreneurs, and even those in ministry, giving up their work, because of this emotional and mental exhaustion. I’ve seen friends who had a deep conviction about a cause, after years of incessant work, let the work lapse and move on. This was not a result of physical exhaustion, but emotional and mental exhaustion.

Every person needs refreshing, we need renewal. We need time to recover and renew the energy that we expend weekly. We need short pauses in our weeks, and longer pauses in our year. This is not an option, this is necessary for growth. The classical example is of a farmer, who leaves a field “fallow”, so that it may recover and support crops in the future.

We are also a field, and our farmer is instructing that we lie fallow for a season (weekly and annually) to recover, so that we can produce good fruit. Producing good fruit in season is never easy. It is hard work, it requires plowing, sowing, watering, tending, weeding, pruning.

In that same way, embarking on good work takes sincere, committed effort. In the midst of the effort, we are often forgetting the need to pause, to breathe, to enjoy time with family, to recover the energy we’ve expended. I love this TED talk on the Shabbat.

So tonight, I’m going to switch off my phone. The startup will be fine for a day without me. The “good work” can also take a pause for a day. Because without that rest, I will burn out. I encourage you to look at your own lives, pause, breathe and allow your mind and body to recover. If you feel like you are on a treadmill, step off for a day. Enjoy your children, ask them about what brings them joy.

I was thinking about this topic (following from our conversation last week), when an ex-manager of mine (since retired from banking) posted about his new role with a charity in HK called Bethany ministries. Bethany Ministries is a retreat center, for rest and restoration. There are also similar centers closer to home in the US. Book a retreat, it is well worth it.

Have a look at the Bethany ministries website and please support this work (abroad or at home). Perhaps consider sending your pastors or ministry leaders on a retreat so that they may also rest and recover!

See you next Friday, friends.

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