by Will Johnston
Some of you don’t need this post.
If you feel like your day and your week have a good rhythm; if you aren’t burnt out, exhausted, or stressed; if you seem to have enough time to get everything done that you need to do, then feel free to skip this one.
This post is for the people who aren’t sure how they’re going to get everything done, whose task list outpaces their availability, who feel like they’re juggling not just one too many things but three too many things.
If that’s you, I want to let you in on a little secret. There’s always more to do.
I remember being in college and having this feeling of relief after finals were over. Suddenly, there was nothing more I had to do. There was no more homework, no more studying, no more stress. In an instant, it was all gone. It was a great feeling.
Unfortunately, I don’t get that feeling very often any more. There’s always another email, another meeting, another project. In fact, I’m writing this post at the last minute, the day that I need to send it in, because there’s been so much to do that I’m just now getting to it.
So how do we find rest in the middle of the busyness of life?
I would suggest that we need to find healthy and sustainable rhythms of life. Our world is not going to get less busy, less chaotic, less demanding. We have to make good (and often difficult) choices in the midst of the chaos.
What do you need to say no to?
It’s not hard to say no to bad things.
Hey, want to volunteer your time with a hate group?
It’s not that hard to say no to that one. But how about:
Don’t you want your kids to get into a good college? Make sure they’re well rounded and in lots of extracurriculars.
Want to be financially secure? A few real estate investments can help make that a reality.
The church needs people to serve on the missions committee. Would you be willing?
Those things are harder to say no to. Who doesn’t want their kids to go to a good school, to be financially secure, or to help missionaries share the gospel? But saying yes to too many things quickly leads to that all-too-familiar feeling of stress.
Just yesterday my pastor shared in his sermon that he and his wife capped their kids’ extracurricular activities to two at one time. With three kids, that’s still a lot of practices, recitals, games, and lessons, but it helped keep the pace of life more sustainable.
When you take stock of your life now, what are the things you’re currently doing or the “opportunities” that have been presented to you that you might need to say no to? You might not be able to stop everything you should right away. You might need to finish out the season, the ministry season, etc., but you can make decisions now that will impact your pace of life going forward.
When do you Sabbath?
Observing the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, but honestly, I don’t think it’s a hard and fast command under the New Covenant the same way that it was under Mosaic Law.
Jesus said in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Not keeping the Sabbath is like eating McDonalds for every meal. It’s not that it’s necessarily a sin. It’s just not a good idea. It’s not very healthy. God gave us the Sabbath as a gift, because He wants good for us.
God doesn’t need to punish us if we don’t keep the Sabbath. Never taking a day of rest is punishment enough in itself.
One of the best decisions I ever made was to set aside one day as a day of rest. I don’t do it perfectly. There are certainly weeks that I end up working on my Sabbath. But setting aside one day where I can do the things I want to do rather than the things I have to do helps keep me sane.
Just one quick note on the Sabbath… it’s not about a list of rules. You might have grown up in a home where Sunday was the Lord’s Day and that essentially meant you weren’t supposed to do anything fun. I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind when he said that the Sabbath was made for man. Don’t worry so much about what are appropriate and inappropriate Sabbath activities, and just do the things that bring you joy and life.
What is your small group rhythm?
Since this is a resource for small group leaders, I thought I should mention something about healthy rhythms surrounding small groups.
There are different ideas about this. Some people think small groups should take breaks, that meeting nearly every week all year long is too much. Others think that it’s weird to take a break from your friends. If we’re truly in community, truly doing life together, then why would we stop?
Here’s my take on it, I think it can be healthy for small groups to take a break occasionally. At my church we run our groups on semesters, and there’s a four to eight week break between semesters. A few of our long standing groups don’t really take these breaks, but they’ll take the summer off.
I don’t necessarily need a break from my friends, but I might need a break from cleaning my house on Tuesday nights or from preparing to lead a discussion every week or from making sure someone has brought snacks. When someone in my group needs a break, they just don’t show up. But that’s not really an option for me. They’re coming to my house.
I’ve found that these breaks help me stay energized and excited about leading a group. And honestly, I’ve found that they actually help my group members stay excited about being in the group, because even when they say and think they don’t want to take a break, after a few months, they get a bit burnt out.
Rarely will anyone make you rest. If you want to find rest, you’re going to have to go looking for it and be willing to make some hard decisions. But if you do, your small group, your friends, your family, and your own soul will thank you for it.