Let’s admit that it can be just plain hard living in a society that praises work and productivity. It seems as though everywhere we look—television, social media, and those who surround us—it is all about ambition, thinking big, and working hard.
It just seems like everyone around us is setting and accomplishing goals, waking up super early and completing tasks before noon, getting on that heavy grind because there is “no time to waste,” and they probably just shun the idea of sleeping too much. I once heard my younger brother say, “If you sleep, you missin’ opportunities.” Hmm…really?
I mean, a good deal of the time—well, me at least—when we are scrolling through social media, we see posts that say things such as, “Rise and grind,” “#TeamNoSleep,” “working hard pays off, there’s no time for slacking,” or, and this is one I actually came across, “who says I can’t be productive on my day off?”
Maybe it’s not just social media. Maybe our parents or siblings are forcing us to go out and get things done. Maybe you’re a workaholic who compulsively finds work just to feel content. Or maybe you just feel pressured because the vast majority of the people around you are getting great jobs or careers, starting businesses or ministries, accumulating wealth and you just feel like you’re drowning in a sea of doubt, fatigue, or perhaps even competition.
It’s the content of our environment that gets into our heads and says that we should work constantly and perhaps makes us feel guilty for wanting to take a day off or for something as simple as taking an afternoon nap.
Seriously, what’s wrong with wanting to take naps or a whole day off? We deserve it don’t we? Is it possible to rest or sleep a little longer without feeling like lazy slugs? We as limited human beings simply need to embrace rest. I’m a hardworking person. I love productivity and getting things done on time.
But I’ve had my fair share of burnout, exhaustion, and, yes, oversleeping. Over the past few months though, in the midst of the restlessness God has been telling me intimately about the importance of resting in general and resting in Him.
The world may have a way of expressing to us that resting and taking breaks are for the weak, but God tells us differently—very differently. God tells us to rest for beautiful reasons and He has given me ways that I can rest effectively in Him without feeling guilty about it and I would like to share them with you.
First, we must know why we need rest.
- First and foremost, even GOD rested. No, not because He was tired, but because God was simply finished with all of His work. He wanted that day of rest to sit back and marvel at His creation (“On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation.” Genesis 2:2-3)
He was happy with what He did and He saw that His work “was good.” Notice that God did not rest before He worked or during His work, but He rested after His work was completed. This means that we should not fully rest and marvel in what we have done until after our work is completed—whatever it may be (cleaning, schoolwork, work, a project, etc.). This brings me to my next point.
- Resting simply refuels us. Resting and sleeping refuels our minds and our bodies. Our energy is regained through resting. This is why taking breaks at work, school, and even while studying is so important because we need that time—no matter how much or how little—to regain our mental, physical, and emotional energy to go back and get the job done. If we work and work and work with no kind of breaks in between, we will burn ourselves out. I’ve been there and we don’t want that to happen.
- We are human. Our bodies are not divine, they are limited. As humans, our flesh gets tired and craves rest. We are simply not designed to move and work without resting. When Jesus walked this earth as a human, even He needed rest (Luke 8:23). He understands what our bodies go through every day so He knows that we are not able to consistently be active.
Here’s how we can rest without the feeling of guilt.
- Learn how to take a break in the midst of your work. We are not God, we are beautifully human and we will get tired and weary even while doing our work which is why taking a break is important. These breaks are like little refreshers that recharge us so that we can finish our work. Think about this: when we are on the job and our manager finally tells us that we can take a break, we joyfully do just that.
We simply cannot clock out any faster for that 30 minute break and get some food into our bellies and sit down for a while. We need that break to refresh our bodies and our minds so we can be prepared for the rest of our shift. But what will happen when our manager tells us to take our 30 minutes and we decide to clock out for the day and go home and take a nap? Would the manager be happy with that? Of course not!
We have work to finish on the job. Our work, skills, and personality are needed. We have to finish making those phone calls, send out the rest of those emails, make sure these people are taken care of, and sweep the floor. We have to get the job done before we can clock out and call it a night.
The same thing applies in real life. We can always “clock out” and take our break from working so hard and just breathe, talk to God, and eat. But we must keep in mind that we still have work to finish and something gorgeous to offer to the world. We must remember to “clock back in” and do what the Lord is using us for.
- Know that there is a difference between “rest” and “laziness.” Resting is what we do when we are tired and sleepy. We rest after working all day, we rest after school and chores, we rest after babysitting, and we even rest after a day—or perhaps a long day—of fun and entertainment because enjoyment can drain us as well.
Our bodies crave rest, sleep, and relaxation after much physical and mental activity so we have to give it what it needs. This is not being lazy because we know that we are resting after we have done what we needed to do. With this kind of rest, we should not feel guilty because we are giving our bodies what it needs.
Laziness, on the other hand, is when we are simply unwilling or unmotivated to do any kind of work. We may have the energy to do things, but we may lack the motivation and determination to work. This is different from resting because we know that we have not done any work or activity to deserve any rest.
- Take a whole day of rest. We are tired! Sometimes we feel overworked and think, “I’m only human! How am I supposed to do all of this in such little time?” We need to schedule a day to treat ourselves with rest and relaxation and thankfully, God gives us the okay to do just that.
One of the Ten Commandments is taking a whole day of rest. This should be a time to rest and reflect from our previous days of working and prepare and recharge for our week ahead. Breathe. Don’t be afraid to sleep in. Sleep is healing to our bodies and minds!
- Read scripture on work and rest and you will realize that the God who tells us to work is the same God who tells us to rest. God wants us to find a healthy balance between work and rest. Whether we are meditating before we clock in or whether we choose to relax with loved ones after work, God wants our bodies to be taken care of. If we work more than we rest, we burn ourselves out. If we rest more than we work, we are not creating or producing much in our lives and, therefore, will not be rewarded for our hard work. We need to find a productive balance.
- Rest in the Lord. Finding rest in God is the greatest way that we as believers can rest. Give all of your worries and cares to the Most High. Shake it off! Shake off your stress, your worries, and your frustrations from coworkers. Even if you had a good, productive day of work and got your tasks completed, rest in God and thank Him for giving you the strength to power through your workday and for helping you accomplish those tasks.
I pray in Jesus’ mighty name that this article helps productive Christians erase the guilt they feel when they stop and rest and take that needed time off and get the rest that they truly deserve. It is important to make time for our work, but also to make time for our God.
If you take nothing else from this article, I want you to know that in order to be at your best, you must feel your best. I’m positive that the most successful people are the ones who work hard, but also know how and when to rest.
Thank you for reading!
- Genesis 2:2-3—“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
- Luke 8:23—“ But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.”
- Exodus 34:21—“ Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.”
- Matthew 11:28-30—“ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
- Proverbs 6:9—” How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?”
- Genesis 2:15—“ The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”