An Appeal For Rest In A World That Tells Us To Run On Empty

1

I come from a long line of hard working people. My father’s parents were farmers, and my mother’s parents never missed a day of work.

When my dad died years ago, my mother was left to raise five young children on her own. She provided for us through her position at the DMV, where she was a dedicated employee who always gave more to her job than what was expected.

Growing up we didn’t have a lot. Thankfully my dad had Life Insurance – which kept us in our house – but my siblings and I always worked. We took summer jobs mowing grass for the neighbors and did anything we could do to earn extra money.

Fast forward to today: my siblings and I each own businesses and have been able to provide for our families in ways we never could have dreamed about growing up. We were raised to have a strong work ethic, and we witness first hand what it means to work hard. I wouldn’t trade this for the world.

However, there is always a tricky side to any good thing – and over the years I have learned that it is possible to work ourselves too hard.

In our April blog conversations about simplicity, we talked about how difficult it can be to unplug from our responsibilities. We are so easily accessible through our phones that many times the line between work and rest is blurred – if it even exists at all.

Just last week I was having lunch with my wife and daughter, and instead of putting my phone away while we ate, I decided to bring it with me. As we sat visiting and eating, a business colleague emailed me and my phone began to buzz on the table. Instinctively, I grabbed for it. My wife kindly reminded me, “It can wait until after you eat your sandwich.”

Somewhere along the line – as our businesses grow, our responsibilities increase, and our influence expands – we begin to believe the lie that the world will fall apart if we slow down.

As our undying devotion to work intensifies, rest is usually the first thing we surrender.

The reality is: true, consistent rest will be the one thing to sustain us for the long haul.

My goal this month is to make an argument for rest and renewal in a world that tells us to run on empty. In the coming weeks, we will be talking through:

Signs you are headed towards burnout,

Reasons why it’s time for you to start planning your next vacation, and

How to design a ‘rhythm of rest’.

I am particularly excited about talking through this subject with you because I, too, am learning the value of rest. Slowly but surely, I am choosing to silence my phone, turn off my computer, and shut down my brain as a gift to myself and to others.

I’m also learning that rest is defined by so much more than sleeping for twelve hours or the occasional Netflix binge. True rest and renewal happens when we allow ourselves the time and space to do the things we love and to genuinely notice the world right around us.

A good friend of mine has lived in Los Angeles for over twenty years. She recently started training for marathons, and as a result has been taking long, leisurely runs through the heart of the city. She loves running, and – in her own way – it is a form of therapeutic rest.

Before my friend started her running routine, she had only viewed Los Angeles from behind her car window as she rushed from one destination to another. But as she began to slow down and run through the heart of her city, she paid attention to things she had never noticed before. For the first time, she discovered the beauty and history of the place that she called ‘home’.

Rest gives us a different perspective about life and how we are living it.

My hope for you this month is that you would be encouraged and inspired to carve out time to rest and renew. I am convinced that in the long run your business, your family, and you will be better for it.