If you sometimes have difficulty finding the line between work and play, you aren’t alone! Engaged in a form of employment that allows me to explore my passion and utilize my creativity, it’s sometimes difficult to see where rest ends and work begins. Unfortunately, this pleasant blur doesn’t change the fact that rest is still essential if I’m going to effectively share God’s love with others.
Unlike the cranky Christian discussed in “Resting One Moment at a Time”, those who love their work run the risk of becoming an obsessed Christian. Instead of grumping about everything, obsessed Christians often find their ability to relate to others limited by the things which they feel most passionate about. The result is that they are often incapable of sharing God’s love outside of the very limited circle of people who share those passions. I probably don’t need to point out that this isn’t the best profile for anyone seeking to follow Christ’s Matthew 28 commission!
To avoid becoming obsessed Christians, we need to learn to rest… and cultivate interests beyond the sphere of our employment (no matter how thrilling that employment may be). To do this requires effort, so here are a few tips to get you started.
- Set aside time to avoid work. It may be a full day or just a few hours, but applying your brain to something other than what you do for a living or the subject that you’re studying in school is a healthy habit. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any activity that may even appear to be related to either of these venues. (If you aren’t sure whether an activity fits, ask a friend or family member. Their observations are usually spot-on.) If you’re studying for a degree in horticulture, don’t spend your “rest time” reading books on plants. If you’re a graphics designer, set the sketch pad aside. I may be tempting to cheat, but don’t! You need this time away.
- Explore other people’s passions. You aren’t the only one completely in love with your vocation! Take some time to find out more about the hobbies and occupations of your friends and family, then participate with them as they indulge their passion. Even if it’s work for them, it’ll be a break for you!
- Try something new. The world is full of interesting things to do. Never picked up a brush? Why not check out a local painting class? Wonder why martial artists yell when they attack? Take a Karate class! Never read a fantasy novel? Ask your local librarian to recommend a good one. There are plenty of things to explore, so use your rest time to do just that!
- Cultivate relationships. Most Americans don’t have many close friends… so why not fill that gap for someone else? Take a break from the things that consume you to get to know those within your family, church, or community. A few hours and a cup of coffee may be all it takes to make a new friend. If all goes well, you’ll both walk away feeling rested!
- Deepen your connection with God. It’s amazing how quickly He can get sidelined in our lives… even though He’s the One who gave us our passion to begin with! Why not rekindle that connection? Instead of doing a quick devotional every day, set aside a larger chunk of time for Bible study and/or prayer. You may be surprised at just how refreshing this time can become… and how odd your day will feel without it!
- Finally, surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart. More than once, it’s been my family that has intervened to let me know that I need to slow down a bit. From the outside, they can see the lines between work and rest quite clearly… even when I can’t. Find yourself some close friends who are willing to keep an eye on you and who are strong enough to tell you when it’s time to quit.
These are, of course, just a few ideas to get you started. Apply yourself and you’re sure to come up with a few more!
Next week, we’ll be exploring the tension which often exists between our need for rest and the needs of Christian ministry. Meanwhile, feel free to share how you escape from becoming an “obsessed Christian” in the comment box below!