In my office, I used to have a framed picture of an empty hammock on the beach with this quote at the bottom:

The art of doing nothing is really something.

I purchased it because I love beaches and hammocks without really thinking about the words written. I recall one day thinking, “When other managers read it, will they think I am lazy?” I have since started BONSAI and gained more wisdom through experiences and learning from those I coach. I have come to realize there is great truth in that proclamation.

Not Resting is on the Top 10 List with Murder
Yes, that reality hit me this morning during my quiet time. Not setting aside a day of rest (taking the Sabbath) is one of the Ten Commandments – as is not murdering. It never occurred to me in that light – God thought they were both of similar importance to put on the top 10 list.

Sometimes, I will share with clients struggling with balance that even God decided to rest on the seventh day. Let’s face it – He didn’t need to, but doing so was a great example for us. He designed us to need rest. If He chose to rest, who are we to think we don’t need it? That awareness usually helps clients see that they alone don’t hold up everything. They too need rest.

If that argument doesn’t work, this one usually does: you don’t read about people in the Bible running around frantically, overly busy, between tanning hides, taking kids to camel games, making unleavened bread, etc. Only one person stands out like this: Martha (see Luke 10:38-42). And, Jesus reprimanded her for it.

Resting Refreshes Us to Take on the New Week
I have found from personal experience that taking the weekend off from business work drastically improves my personal performance on Monday. The very few times I worked a few hours on a Saturday, my brain was sluggish on Monday. By letting Sundays be a day of rest, enjoying friends and hopefully the outdoors (vs. work around the house, or overly packing the day in with activities) allows my mind to:

  • Focus on Who I really serve
  • Unwind and get to a place of no stress
  • Become ready to go full steam the next morning

When I ran a department, my team decided to work 45 hours during the week and take three-day weekends every other week. They loved it and I could see their renewed spirit when they returned. Morale, satisfaction, creativity and productivity all increased. Even my clients with the busiest of schedules have seen the fruit from prioritizing rest.

You Have to Plan in Advance to Rest

Ok, I know it probably sounds weird to “plan to rest,” but it is required in a culture that says busyness is a badge of honor (people bragging about hours worked and hours not slept, number of soccer games attended, etc.) In fact, when I attended a recent professional meeting and everyone else was talking about how hectic their lives were, I was starting to wonder if something was wrong with me because I decided to reject that life style choice.

I’ll write more on that decision in a future blog. For now, let’s focus on the word “choice.” You need to choose to rest, to focus on bearing fruit vs. accumulating points for tasks. To have the self-control to change, a shift in behaviors is required, as are decisions made before the point of challenge. For example, if you are dieting, you need to decide before arriving at the restaurant you will order salad vs. fries because the smell and sight of those fries will likely take you off course (especially sweet potato fries!)

So, let’s look at some decisions and actions that will help you take your day of rest:

  • If you have tasks that must be done before Monday (laundry, shopping, work, chores), carve out time for them on Saturday, even if it requires getting up early or staying up a late.
  • Identify what is not restful that you might get asked to do, and prepare your answer so you are ready if the request is made (e.g., “I would love to, how about next Saturday” or “Sorry, I can’t make that work”).
  • Don’t commit to events that without the proper focus that are scheduled on that day (for me, that means if it prevents me from honoring God or spending time with loved ones).
  • Identify what you will do that day (and anything you might need to purchase like a book, art supplies, etc.) and who you will spend it with. That way, when the day comes, you are ready to fully enjoy it and drink it in like a cool, refreshing breeze.

I am not suggesting legalism, but if we don’t make rest a top priority and order our lives accordingly, it just doesn’t seem to happen.

Your challenge: Identify a day of rest this week and plan for it.

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    Loriana Sekarski is founder and president of BONSAI, a consulting company that transforms leaders (and businesses) into the best version of themselves. As a leadership coach, Loriana teaches leaders how to hone soft skills, spur workplace engagement, and achieve untapped levels of potential. Outside of BONSAI, Loriana serves as an adjunct professor at Washington University’s graduate student program. Additionally, she’s fine-tuning her passion project, TakeFlight, a program that addresses domestic abuse within the Christian community.