Work Hard, Rest Well
I’m a doer, a worker. I love efficiency and productivity. I thrive on accomplishing tasks and seeing my tangible, physical progress. The problem is I work better than I rest. The second problem is that I’m rarely satisfied that my work is complete. I set high bars and expectations and can always “do more”. But for a human being, that is chasing something with no finish line in sight.
Perfection isn’t reality. At some point I must choose ‘good enough’ and be satisfied.
God’s Model For Work
I love how God looked at His work, found satisfaction, then rested.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”
My nature in my work is to simply keep moving forward. I rarely stop, assess, find satisfaction, and rest. Instead, I complete, I plan, I analyze, I re-assess, I work harder, I complete, I move harder and faster. And when I rest, my mind isn’t really at rest. So is it really a rest? Likely not.
When a strength swings to a weakness
When I was a CPA, my boss frequently commended me for my efficiency and productivity. I could knock out some work. That was great for billable hours. But that very strength in my previous career can be downright detrimental to my relationships without careful attention.
Without being mindful of this bent in me, I can mark off my to-do list and miss my most important task of the day – loving and serving the ones right in front of my eyes. Loving them in the ways they receive it, not the way I receive. Not with acts of service, but maybe with quality time or a gift.
Without intentionality to my time, I can complete a long list of chores, yet miss the invitation to conversations waiting on the tips of tongues.
Without planned stops in my day, I may set myself up to be perceived as too busy for anyone to “bother” me.
A little experiment in productivity
I keep a to-do list like most of us. My problem is that I have no problem adding as the day marches on. If I complete everything, I keep working and adding. Then I find myself believing I can never get anything done when in reality, I got more done than I needed to.
I listened to a podcast about tracking time. It was geared towards people who find they waste too much time. Initially, I tossed the idea aside of tracking my time.
I did an experiment one day.
I set timers and wrote down everything I did all day long. At the end of the day I was simply amazed. I honestly found myself unable to believe I really did all I did that day.
Here’s the part I want you to pay attention to. If I had not written all that down, I would have beat myself up over all the things that didn’t get done. I would have focused on the things I planned to do that I was unable to get around to. Things added more than likely as the day moved forward.
We tend to focus on the negatives quicker than the positive. And we can be so harsh to our own selves.
And this is where I felt God drawing my attention. He wanted me to notice how hard I was to myself, how unkind I spoke to myself inside my own head.
He showed me this towards the end of this little experiment of tracking my time. Day one went so well, I tried it a 2nd day. I didn’t want to learn to become more productive. I wanted to learn to be more satisfied in what I’d done and stop trying to do more than is necessary. The reason? I want to enjoy this life with these people in this little pocket of time we’ve been given.
I don’t want to be known when I’m gone as the most productive person they’d ever known. I want to be known for how Jesus shined through my life. I want to be known for how God was glorified in me as I found satisfaction in Him and the life I’ve been given.
On the 2nd day of the experiment, I noticed my thoughts regarding my time. It was always in the negative. Rarely satisfied that I’d done the best I could do, now it was time to rest.
Where I’m headed
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of you. How I’m “supposed” to write in such a way that helps you solve your problems, but I rarely write from that perspective. Instead, I process my life with you right here. Aren’t you lucky 🙂
I find myself in a place, I find what’s a struggle and what’s a help. I don’t always have a solution, but I can share what I’m finding along the path.
The first step in making changes is simply noticing where the problem is. For me, the problem isn’t that I’m a productive person. It’s that I don’t allow myself the freedom to rest free of guilt and I don’t stop and find satisfaction in the work completed.
God shows us this model in His creation. He said it was very good each day. At the end of 6 days, He was satisfied. On the 7th day, He rested.
If the God of the universe can work, find satisfaction, and rest, then we as humans can follow His footsteps.
What a God we serve.
Time is a gift not a dictator.
Time is precious. It’s a gift. Rather than fighting the clock and running myself into the ground exhausted, maybe it’s time I open my hands and surrender the time to the Lord. Time doesn’t get to be the boss of me unless I allow it. I’m choosing to see each day as the gift it is.
“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”