Life Realignment :: Rest

Our day off is a good time to think about rest. This post is part of a series on Life Realignment — a series about finding our new rhythm, which we’re finding necessary since bringing Ethan home and moving to new ministries, all in recent months. (If you missed the previous posts, they’re here: Nutrition and Exercise).

In biblical terms, there’s the word “sabbath,” which means to pause or to stop. Sabbath comes from a root word meaning to catch your breath.

There are a few phrases I’ve collected over the years that get at this idea of rest …

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” John Ortberg wrote a piece for several years ago that continues to challenge me several years later.

“Unbusy pastor.” This phrase was a chapter title in Eugene Peterson’s book, The Contemplative Pastor, one of the most impacting books I’ve ever read (I read it in the early/mid 1990s when I was working on my M.Div.). As I recall (and it has been a while!), the phrase basically means that although you’re busy on the outside, you don’t have to be busy on the inside (at least that’s how I’ve always understood/remembered it).

“Planned neglect.” I’m not sure where I heard this phrase, but the idea is that you have to neglect some things (even good things) to focus on the most important things. IOW, your “to-not-do” list is at least as important as your “to-do” list! It’s about learning to saying no.

“Choosing to cheat.” Similar to “planned neglect,” this phrase comes from the title of Andy Stanley’s book, which I’ve written about previously (Choosing to Cheat 1.0 and Choosing to Cheat 2.0).

Well, we certainly haven’t mastered those concepts, but they’re helpful targets.

Another strategy I’ve found helpful comes from Rick Warren who suggests that people (he usually teaches this to pastors) …

  • Divert daily.
  • Withdraw Weekly.
  • Abandon Annually.

Essentially, we need to make time to disengage, and to rest, daily. We must also take time to rest weekly (day off, sabbath). And we must take some extended time off (vacation) periodically (at least annually).

For a little more detail on Rick’s teaching, see Mark Beeson’s blog. I especially like Rick’s quote listed there:

Most pastors are like a poor photograph … over-exposed and under-developed.

Well, we don’t want to be either of those things. We want to be spiritually healthy, and the only way to do that is to find our rhythm, knowing when to engage and when to disengage.

No one did that better than Jesus …

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. (Luke 5.16)

We’ve always said we do pretty well with vacations and our weekly day off but we struggle with the other 6 days of the week. That struggle is only made more challenging, and more important (!), with Ethan in our lives. That just means we have to work a bit harder to live healthy lives!

4 thoughts on “Life Realignment :: Rest”

  1. You have accumulated some really good quotes. Recently, I heard Andy Stanly delivering a message on Focus on the Family. The subject was, Who Are You Cheating? I plan to get a few copies and pass them around. I also like Warren’s “divert daily, withdraw weekly, abandon annually.” I used to try to take a day a month for a personal retreat but have sadly gotten away from that habit. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Yeah, we used to do a monthly day away. Sometimes, we’d go to an area state park for a morning and afternoon to read, pray, relax, and recharge our batteries.

  3. Excellent thoughts Randy! I’ve got to get my hands on Andy Stanley’s “Choosing to Cheat.” It sounds like a book I need to read. 🙂

    As you know (through my blogging) this is something I am working on as well. I have found that by taking the time to rest that I am MUCH more effective in life and in ministry.

  4. Andy’s little book (with a big message) is a quick read.

    The idea of cheating (or neglecting) things or people is not something we like to talk about, especially as pastors/leaders. We want (or sometimes feel pressured) to do it all.

    Not only is impossible to do it all, trying to do it all is a recipe for ineffectiveness (if not disaster). Andy Stanley writes about the concept of “less is more” in Next Generation Leader, one of the best books on leadership I’ve ever read.


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