(This is part 4 of 4 in a Leadership & Brokenness “mini-series.”)
We previously suggested that healthy leaders can engage in several practices to avoid and address burnout: acknowledging brokenness, managing emotions and creating rhythms of Sabbath.
A question has plagued my mind as I recently prepared for a course entitled Living Out Your Mission. Why did the God of the universe – the One who hung planets and stars in space, created land, sea, and sky – decide to take a “day off” after His handiwork?
He didn’t need rest, so why did He?
Tim Keller suggests, in different terms, that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…” God designed us to work, but labor without rest quickly becomes a recipe for burnout.
Tranquility without toil will not bring us satisfaction; neither will toil without tranquility. There will be both toil AND tranquility.
(Every Good Endeavor, Keller, p. 107)
So why is rest so difficult? Your time off accrues steadily, but you can’t peel yourself away from work. You crave down-time, yet feel guilty about sitting idle. You take on more than you should due to perfectionism or codependency.
If you tarry long enough, your body eventually screams “ENOUGH!”
It’s no wonder that the longest, most detailed of the Ten Commandments outlines the need for Sabbath rest. And in light of our struggles to stop, the rationale for God’s “cosmic nap” becomes clearer.
He demonstrated Sabbath because we fundamentally needed the example.
Perhaps, as an introvert, it’s easier to listen to my inner voice demanding Sabbath. In silence, nature, and blank space, I hear the voice of God most clearly. But many fear the silence.
In the quiet, one must face his/her true self.
Maybe this explains why we postpone it. Keller further suggests that God embodied rest to urge us not to make work an idol. He sought to remind us that we mustn’t deify our individual talents, or the accomplishments of our group.
Work has its limitations. Leaders who practice Sabbath choose a courageous humility that says “I’ll do my best, but I can’t do everything.”
What would it take for you to schedule rhythms of Sabbath and potentially avoid a future crisis? Take one small action step today!
Daniel Gluck serves as Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Jessup, and Lead Faculty for the B.A. in Christian Leadership program.