For some of us former procrastinators, rest is actually one of the things we put off. We don’t think we have the freedom to relax. We have a backlog of items on our do list and feel guilty for being behind. We just don’t think we can stop or even pause to take a break. So we push on trying to do more. This thinking is counter-productive. It works against us and our efforts because it drags both down.
Since we’re designed to need rest, we cooperate with the Lord when we get a good night’s sleep or prop up our feet for a little rejuvenation during the day. We know Jesus is our best rest and we’re grateful we don’t have to strive for salvation. We also need to learn to rest from our labors. Let’s take advantage of these summer weeks by taking a break from pushing so hard to accomplish. Do less, snooze in a lawn chair, log an extra hour in bed.
If you’re in a spot where you must push forward with some projects, enlist help. Maybe there’s a high schooler who could watch your kids or work beside you so you complete what you need to. Or maybe you and a friend could swap babysitting and work days. Ask the Lord for ideas and provision so that you can get out from under what weighs you down and enjoy some free, restful time.
I checked out Essentialism again – because rest is essential. McKeown sums it up by saying overwork can threaten our health and our ability to contribute. He urges us to “protect the asset.” He explains, the best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. (God has put His Spirit in us, His earthly vessels.) We don’t want to damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution. Sleep is not an enemy of productivity, but vital for peak performance. We should see sleep as necessary for making the best contribution.
Ericsson’s famous study of violinists showed the best of them were not more talented – they practiced more. The second most important factor differentiating the best from the good was – sleep. The best averaged over 8 hours a day plus nearly 3 hours of napping a week. (This is not possible for everybody. But what might the Lord provide if we asked Him and made rest a priority?) The point is that while the best violinists practiced more they also got more out of their practice because they were better rested.
McKeown says sleep deprivation compromises our ability to discern values and thus our ability to prioritize. When we can’t tell what matters most, our contribution is less.
Whether we contribute in an office with clients, teaching little ones, or working outdoors, we need the brain power to make wise decisions and interact well.
God gives us freedom to relax. He’ll help.
How would your contribution improve if you were well rested?