Rest increases productivity

Rest increases productivity.

I sped away from Barnes and Noble today. Broke the speed limit, would have broken the sound barrier if I was driving Clay's Z (okay, would have destroyed the transmission because I've yet to master driving stick, but you get the point). I was so full of life.

We went to church and then to Barnes and Noble. I spent 3 hours reading Switch by the Heath brothers. I'm a Learner, according to Strengthsfinder, so spending part of the day learning is hugely restful and reinvigorating for me.

I have a long "To Do" list. So long, in fact, that without rest, I'll get exhausted before I can finish it. This makes sense, is easy to see, so why do I often ignore it?

If God designed us to need regular, rhythmic rest in order to work at our optimum capacity, why do I throw rest out the window whenever the work piles us?

Imagine with day of rest today (useless from a work-perspective) will send me into the work-week fully charged. I'll have high productivity tomorrow, blaze through my office day with all of it's easy-to-scratch-off, momentum-building tasks and race into the ministry week.

But what if I'd worked today? Wrote up those notes instead of reading Switch? Made those calls instead of spending time with Amy? Read that book for work instead of A Tale of Two Cities?

I'd be exhausted going into tomorrow: physically, emotionally, spiritually. And I don't have to be. God created this Sabbath rhythm for me. I should make use of it.

Too many of us in ministry can't rest. We're always working, we can't find anything active that's restorative (we just crash on the couch), we never unplug. At our best, we do this because we're so committed to the mission. The mission isn't a 40-hour-a-week mission. It's the sort of mission that inspires one to "beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to other, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

But here's the paradoxical thing: our lack of rest so drains us, so decreases our productivity that we gain less and less from our long hours. Now, there's an edge on the other side. We all know people in ministry who seem to do practically nothing. But folk like me really struggle with it from this angle.

What if I took one day off every week, several waking hours off every night? I think the boost in productivity would more than compensate for the loss of hours worked.

So the challenge, if you're struggling with the work-all-the-time angle, is simple: rest more. I'll give you two options: rest for 30 minutes more each day or rest for 4 hours on a specific day. Do it for a month. See what happens.

***Note: you'll probably find out quick that you don't really know how to rest. At least, I hope that's what you find. I don't want it to be just me. I'll post on this tomorrow***

1 comment:

  1. Steve, thanks for writing this. I love the Sabbath and helping others experience the gospel in God's gracious invitation to rest.

    I'll admit, though - having a baby has made this discipline hard. With diapers, meals, and other regular childcare responsibilities, I feel like my ox is always falling into a pit on the Sabbath. I struggle with not being resentful toward my son for robbing me of the leisurely hours I used to spend reading, napping, or just being alone with Karen. It might sound awful to say this, and I know my attitude should be one of gratitude and hospitality, but after watching Alexander all week in the mornings, I just want a day off - and there's no such thing. So I find myself never fully being able to leave the other-six-days mode and enjoy Sabbath as I have in the past.

    Let me know in a few months if you feel this way, and if you have a solution for me ;-)