At the box where I do Crossfit, we have this concept called “work for the rest.” We do workouts occasionally that are a prescribed amount of time, with a rest, then repeat. So that would look like this:
3 minutes of burpees
1 minute of rest
3 minutes of pull-ups
1 minute of rest
3 minutes of seated row
1 minute of rest
So the idea is that you’d sprint the burpees, pull-ups, and the row because you get to rest immediately afterwards and because you’ve got to sprint again. Our coaches are harping on us the whole workout saying, “Work for the rest!” In other words, work so hard that you have to take the rest. Push yourself so hard that you have to stop at the prescribed time in order to rest. Work so hard that you’re gasping for air, barely able to stand up, not-able-to-talk tired. Don’t get to the 60 seconds of rest and think, “I could’ve done a little more.” You’re getting a rest for a reason! You should need it
- because you’re tired, and you feel like your body is ready to collapse.
- because you’re not done, and another round is coming in 60 seconds.
There are spiritual implications to this concept, too. Our bodies were created to work. And not just any work. We were created to do significant work. Work that matters here and echoes throughout eternity. Work that serves our families. Our communities. Work that gives back. That makes the world a better place.
But we were also called to rest. Rest replenishes our bodies. Helps us refresh. Allows our life rhythms to breathe. (ultimately, the “rest” that the Bible talks about finds its fulfillment in Jesus, who calls us to “rest” from our works: we don’t have to earn our relationship with God. That’s another post for another day.) It shows our dependence on God, as we rest instead of work, acknowledging He’s the one that is in control.
Did you know that we’re commanded to rest? It’s actually one of the 10 commandments:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. – Exodus 20:8-9
We tend to think of disobedience as breaking the law. Doing something “bad.” But the Bible would say we’re being disobedient if we don’t rest.
The bottom line
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to work and rest.
1. Work so hard you need the rest.
Work so hard and so well that your body, soul, and spirit are gasping for air because you’ve given all you’ve got. Work so hard that you can’t go on because you need that rest. And while you’re at it, make yourself indispensable. Become a linchpin.
The Apostle Paul says this:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men – Colossians 3:23
If you knew what you were doing was “for the Lord,” as in you were receiving a direct instruction from God himself, you’d work a little bit differently. You’d put a little more oomph into those “mundane” tasks. You may show up a little earlier. Stay a little later. Put more creativity in. Share more deeply. Lead more passionately. Give more generously.
Go! Go! Go! The rest is coming. [Tweet that]
2. Rest so well you need to work.
Work well, and take the rest. Let your body, soul, and spirit recover. Find those things that help your soul replenish. For me, that means a few things:
- No email
- Time with family
- Reading a good book
- Walks around the lake in my city (“active recovery”)
- Time with Jesus (reading Scripture, praying, etc.)
- Coffee with friends
Through rest, God breathes life back in to me. I need it, too. I give everything I have to my work. Every ounce of my experience, abilities, passion, and life. So I need a fresh wind every single week. I need Rest. Rest gives me energy, stamina, creativity, and the ability to get back up again. It also reminds me, each and every week, that in my rest that I show my dependence on God. I could work. Or I could trust God to do the work He’s promised He will. I remind myself that my body’s not my own. The ministry’s not my own. My family’s not my own.
And after rest, I’m ready to go back out. I strive to rest so well that I’m ready to get back at it.
Just recently, a pastor friend of mine stepped down from his leadership role because he was burned out. He’d gone so hard for so long without taking rest for his soul. The scary part for pastors like us is that if we don’t rest well, we could lose the ministry we’re striving so hard to serve. [Tweet that]
When you don’t rest, you’re not ready for what’s coming. You end up producing less, being less available, and having less capacity. You can’t give your all to what’s coming because you’re still trying to run on empty.
So rest. Rest well. Rest hard. That next 3 minute sprint is coming.
Tomorrow’s coming. That next season is coming. That next project is coming. That next ministry opportunity is coming.
Your family needs you. Your friends need you. Your community needs you. And if you’re a pastor, your church needs you.
Not the tired, burned out, rode-hard-and-hung-up-wet you. They need the fresh, Rested you.