Do you have a life worth imitating?
I was at a gathering of church leaders when I was first challenged with that question. Like many of you, I am driven. I tend to work to a point of exhaustion, neglect my need for rest, then crash. My default is Work. Exhaustion. Crash. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. We live in a culture that does its best to convince us that our true value and worth is based on what we accomplish instead of who we are.
This promotes a frenzied pace of life that ultimately leads to unhealthy stress and burnout. When I ask people what keeps them from the kind of life they want to live, the number one response is “I am too busy.” How are you doing? Busy. How is life? Busy. How’s the family? Busy. Work? Busy. We have become human “doings” rather than human “beings.”
I get it. I have a beautiful wife, four active kids and a ministry I love pouring myself into. How’s my life? Busy. As I considered that question and my own frenetic pace of life, I had to pause. I may be doing the right things—following God’s call to lead our ministry and caring for my family—but if I am exhausted and stressed, I am not modeling a healthy rhythm of life.
Maybe you have always wanted to start a business, spend more time with your kids, develop your relationship with God or invest more in friendships but feel that you simply don’t have the time. The reality is that God has given us all the time we need for the things that matter most. The key is learning to develop a healthy rhythm of work and rest.
God desires us to have a life worth imitating. He doesn’t want us to be driven but to be drawn by Him. I love Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG), “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The model Jesus demonstrates to us is a rhythm of productive work and meaningful rest. Developing a healthy rhythm of life requires intentionality. There is an on-going tension in developing a healthy life rhythm and none of us will do this perfectly. Over the past six months I have begun observing a weekly Sabbath, a day each week where I seek to engage in meaningful rest and activities that are re-creational for me.
Another way of understanding rest is the word “re-creation.” What re-creates you? What breathes life into you when you are feeling weary? What refreshes your heart and mind when life feels hectic? For me, I might attend one of my son’s basketball games, go on a hike with my family, read, spend time in Scripture and prayer, take in a movie or take a nap.
Even though God commands us to Sabbath, at first I felt guilty setting aside a day of rest. It felt selfish. After all, there are many things I “could or should” be doing.
It’s easy for people to ignore this Top Ten from God, but God’s commands are for our benefit. He knows we need meaningful rest, regularly. He ranks it right up there with do not steal, do not kill, and do not commit adultery, yet we continue to put off his command to rest.
Our Creator, our Dad who loves us, understands what we need in order to live well. Practicing this weekly rhythm has been life-giving for me and my family. Working from a place of rest instead of resting from work has been a game-changer.
If you are not physically rested, it is hard to be spiritually connected and attentive to God. Have you ever fallen asleep when you are trying to pray?
On the flip side, it is hard to physically rest when you are spiritually/emotionally anxious. It is difficult to have one without the other.
As you consider this, what is God’s invitation to you? What would it look like to receive the meaningful rest that God wants to give you?
First, identify any time-wasting or unfruitful activities in your schedule. Ask God for the wisdom and discipline to say “no” to these things. Then, choose one or two consistent, healthy rhythms you feel drawn to put into practice. Daily Scripture reading, exercise, consistent sleep, a weekly Sabbath, a family getaway?
Ask yourself what re-creates you and what is God inviting you to in order to live a life marked by productive work and meaningful rest, a life worth imitating.
— by Matt Hammett
Hammett is the lead pastor of Flood Church, which is launching its third campus in San Diego this year. He currently serves on the International Board of Children of The Nations, a ministry seeking to raise formerly orphaned and destitute children to transform their nations.