I am not talking about Stanley at The Office idling through his day with crossword puzzles, clock-watching, and sarcasm. Nor about George Costanza lounging under his desk at Yankee Stadium. I am talking about being highly productive and being at rest at the same time. This is possible!
To illustrate this point, I turn to a passage from Scripture that is arguably one of the most misinterpreted. Jesus is speaking, as recorded in Matthew 11:28-30,
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Many who are weary look to this passage as the promise that one day work will be over. Then they will have rest, as in leisure or a long-awaited vacation. I get it. That kind of rest is often needed, and I certainly recommend refreshing and refueling as a key tenet of building healthy rhythms into your life.
But the concept here is so much better. Better than rest from work is when you can rest at work. You see, Jesus is talking about a yoke. Since I grew up in a farming community, I understand that a yoke is a symbol for hard, physically exhausting work. A yoke is also often used in reference to slavery, and slaves find themselves longing for just a moment of rest. But we are invited to work alongside a yokemate that promises to do the heavy lifting. This provides rest at a soul level; and that is profound rest.
Clients who engage with me to build a Life Roadmap, as a first step in the process, search for and identify the 4 or 5 main drivers for their life. Those ideas, things, and people that are most important to them. Work – vocational work – is usually on the list. But seldom is it listed as the #1 priority on the list. What we come to realize, then, is that our purpose – our self-worth – is actually derived from much more than what we do for a living. Yet the reality of our work-a-day life all too often results in becoming heavy laden. Our vocational work becomes toil rather than being purpose-driven.
Of course, thinking that work is now joined by 3 or 4 other priorities that vie for our limited time and attention is not necessarily a recipe for feeling rested! That is, unless we decide to invoke the principle of building healthy rhythms into our lives, which involves the following:
Put work in its proper place – stop toiling and allow your work to fulfill its designated purpose in your life. Focus appropriate attention on the other priorities in your life so that one aspect (work) doesn’t rob you of the joy that comes from the others.
Rely on others to lighten the load – all too often, we take ourselves so seriously that we are sure no one else will be able to do what we do at the level of competence we display. Even to the extent that is true, relying on them anyway gives them a chance to grow and you a chance to feel relief.
Engage in profound rest – perhaps you do not take Jesus at His word and join Him in His yoke. Still, it is imperative that you discover those activities and people that refresh and reenergize you, and then build that into your rhythms so you can be at your best when you reengage with work.