Rick Warren, the writer of Purpose Driven Life and the master of the well crafted sentence, famously says that “To avoid burnout you should Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly and Abandon Annually”
In a world that says you can always do more, this is refreshing. A world that is always on, with more and more information to absorb through ever changing news cycles, increasing social media output and endless video streaming – we will never be able to keep up, nor are we designed to.
To divert daily is to allow yourself to get distracted, to switch off and do something that requires little thought. To get bored and let the mind wander. It is often out of boredom that creative ideas are given the space they need to develop.
To withdraw weekly re-enacts the story of creation. God himself took a break after a pretty impressive week at work and we should too. This is not about church attendance, but about taking a sabbath. To do something different with your day. With friends. With family. To be truly with those you love. To remind yourself that the world does not revolve around you and your achievements, but that God is our source and we should revolve around Him.
To abandon annually is to completely disconnect from your responsibilities. To get away. To change rhythm. To slow down. To escape. To detox your mind from the never ending concerns that you believe only you can resolve.
The truth is I am not very good at any of these.
I fidget and fill any gap in the day with innocuous activity, when I would be better off to allow myself to day dream and stare out the window for a few minutes.
I protect my Saturday as my day off with good intentions, but then try and get all the tasks done that I didn’t achieve during the week.
And I am terrible at holidays. Ask my family. (Actually don’t – they might be tell you the truth!) They try and avoid me for the first two days of our holiday while I initially decompress. Then I completely switch off, possibly too much. I opt out. Ignore conversation. Immerse in reading. Walk slowly, because truthfully I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I unwind.
But I know for the sake of my family, my friends, the church and staff that I am privileged to serve and more importantly, for the sake of my soul, I need to practise these habits.
God is not impressed by our hard work or our ambitions, he wants us to pause. He is a jealous God and wants our attention, not our excuses.
“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Psalms 127:2 NLT
As we head into the holiday season, get some rest and rediscover the ‘unforced rhythms of grace‘.