I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I'm known to grab a book and a place to sit and read for hours. Reading makes me think, and I like to think. The books I'm currently working on have challenged my thinking in several areas. One common theme is the idea of rest. Not just any kind of rest, but a Sabbath rest. One book, The Dangerous Act of Worship (Mark Labberton) devoted an entire chapter to rest. A Beautiful Mess (Rick McKinnley) does the same. Here are some thoughts:
We are to live [the Christian life] daily as well as practice a weekly sabbath-keeping. It is not just an old legalism reinserting itself. It says to the frantic, exhausted, distracted, fatigued people of God: please rest. The hectic lives of Christians in our culture and the busyness of many churches show little sign of living out of God's rest. Our tendencies to imitate our culture are directly related to our unwillingness to stop, cease producing, consuming, moving, accomplishing, buying planning. We can be as much 24-7 (even in the name of Jesus) s our secular neighbors.
A Dangerous Act of Worship
When I read that paragraph, I thought, "Man, he's right. I tend to want to just keep going and going, trying to 'advance the kingdom.'" Rick McKinnley points out, however, that God is already advancing His kingdom. He is doing it with His strength and His power. All He asks of us is to live in the kingdom that He is already building. Labberton goes on to say:
Predictably, when our communal and personal sabbath-keeping practices are anemic or absent, we have far less to give for the sake of others.
So why talk about this in a Technical Arts blog? Simple: Because techies are some of the most driven, workaholic people I know. And I can say that because I'm a recovering workaholic. When we love what we do, it's easy to keep doing it, to the exclusion of other things, even rest. We console ourselves with the fact that our serving is worship, and that makes it OK to keep going 6-7 days a week 3 or 4 weeks a month. We work our day jobs during the week, and come to church to work on the weekends. It's not good.
A few months ago, I found myself working 65-70 hours a week. The list of things to do kept getting longer, and the projects I was working on seemed never ending. I was developing high-level training, installing new equipment and running services. It was killing me. I know you know what I'm talking about. It hasn't been easy, but I've managed to pare my schedule down so I have at least 1 solid day off every week, and twice a month, I get a Sunday off. The difference in my life has been amazing.
Now, I'm trying to re-focus my time off to be able to spend more time being, and not doing. I want to rest in God's creation, so that when I am working, I have something to give. Now, as much as I've done this, I'm starting to think about our volunteers. We have some who serve almost every weekend. That means they never get a day off to just be. I want us as a church to start evaluating what we do in light of how it affects our volunteers.
That's the funny thing about the Church. In our desire to "advance the kingdom," we're willing to sacrifice our members. Churches that are just plain busy (as opposed to missional) are doing more harm than good. The reason is simple. It is only through living in God's rest, that we are able to see the world as He sees it. If we don't have His vision, we aren't doing His work—we're doing our own and asking Him to bless it.
If you are a staff Techie, make sure you take time to stop. Do it this week. Give yourself permission to let a few things go undone. Believe me, they will be there next week. If you are a volunteer, God bless you! Make sure you don't over-commit either. We want you to serve, but not at the expense of your family or spiritual well-being. Take time to rest, church will still go on. If you are a church leader, please consider your schedule and consider the burden it places on those who actually have to implement it. Try to figure out a way to do the work of God without killing anyone (a plan I'm pretty sure God would be on board with).
Take time to enjoy God's creation. Take time to read His Words. Read a good book. Be available to those you love. Just be. You can always get back to doing tomorrow.