I just recently got back from a few days of annual leave and realised that despite it being a great time for recovery, rejuvenation and re-excitement for work, I had a sense of feeling guilty for resting. Amongst modern culture it has slowly become the norm to idolise a workaholic mentality. Whether it be from the entrepreneurs we see on the news or men and women going about their everyday work, this hurried, work centred lifestyle can often seem essential to achieve any sense of greatness in our work field. I reflected on this a little and here's my perspective as a follower of Christ.
Analysing this work led view on a bigger scale we can recognise that it seems to be unhealthy and dangerous and that's because it's not who we are called to be. Our identity is not to be found in our work, but instead in Christ. However, we see misunderstandings of this as we are indeed called to work. Right from the beginning of the Bible we see man labouring, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” - Genesis 2:15. So do we work or do we rest? Well, I believe we are scripturally called to do both and indeed through the way we work and rest, can often point people to God.
Firstly the way we work can be different as we should want to work hard. As the famous verse in Colossians goes, 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters'. I used to worked in the chicken restaurant Nando's before I came to Kent and there were no other Christians who worked with me but I loved it. It gave me a great opportunity to be a witness for Christ. Sometimes the shop was empty of customers and we'd have nothing to do, some would chat, some would pretend to be busy, but I would make sure to continue working and get all the staff drinks so they'd be hydrated. It was only a little thing but people noticed it. Similarly wherever you are situated, I'm sure you can act out and work like you are working for Christ. People remember those who go above and beyond and it provides a brilliant opportunity for us to speak about our faith.
If thats the case, where, you may wonder does rest fit in? Is it necessary? I would reiterate the point I made earlier in the fact that we shouldn't be ruled by work because that is not what our identity is in. We should work hard but acknowledge that there is a greater purpose to our being through Jesus. Whether that be lived out through us sticking to the sabbath day of rest principle despite worldly commitments or we simply do not give into the lie that we need to work 24/7 to be appreciated. A helpful scripture on this is Hebrews 4:9-11; 'There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience'. The perfect Creator, the one who knows all, the ultimate God, decided to rest on the seventh day. He didn't believe in the lie of workaholism. He believed that certain time was necessary to reflect, look back at what was made and rest.
Do we think ourselves so much bigger and better than God that we don't need rest? Alongside that we cannot simply burn both ends of the candle forever. We have a purpose in this life and working hard is involved in that, but not so hard that it is halted before we get to reap the rewards for our efforts.
Go out and work, pursue the calling God has sent you to do but also remember to have a time of rest, don't feel guilty about it. I often find it hard to differentiate between work and the rest of my time, so I am working harder on my boundaries, so that other priorities in my life, have the needed love, space and time to grow. Let there be distinction between your work, your rest and your play. Know that all of life is entrusted to us by our loving Heavenly Father. Rest too!
"Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength... It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less." Charles Spurgeon