My StrengthsFinder profile lists Achiever at the top. I love to set goals and go after solutions to problems. This can make it feel impossible to turn off my work–especially when the pressure is on, and the stress is high.
I remember a particularly intense season of ministry when it seemed I worked every day, all day. I would work a full day at my office, come home and work around my house (while still attached to my other work via phone calls, texts, and emails), and then get back to ministry work after my boys were in bed. My weekends and vacations were more of the same.
And because of this pace, my leadership was less at a time I thought I was giving it more.
Unfortunately, nobody confronted me about this. No leader showed me what it looked like to work and rest in a way that was sustainable and healthy. I only saw extreme examples of too much work or too much play. It took a personal rock-bottom experience for me to realize I had to make a change.
What I needed was a rhythm of work and rest. Here are three ways I have since established this rhythm in my leadership:
- Setting my daily work/office hours: I must make the choice every day to turn off my email, let the call go to voicemail, and put down the project when my office hours are complete. This allows me to be present with my family and to get the daily physical and mental rest I need in order to be ready to go the next day.
- Establishing a weekly Sabbath: This day is set aside for worship, rest, and things that bring great joy–like baking pies or going on a walk in the woods. We plan our week around it so little errands and homework don’t sneak in.
- Scheduling extended rest and play: I add in days of silence and solitude from time to time, as well as vacation days full of activities, like naps and adventures with my boys, that recharge my batteries.
My rhythm of work and rest still gets a little off now and again. But now I recognize it and reset as quickly as possible. It’s important not just for me but also for my family and those I lead.
A few books that have been influential for me on this subject are:
- Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline by Lauren Winner
- Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allendar and Phyllis Tickle
- Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton
- Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity by Keri Wyatt Kent
I will be talking more about how to establish a rhythm of work and rest at this month’s Leaders Lunch on February 21. If you lead in the Dallas area, I would love for you to join us by registering here.