I do enjoy the July-August edition because it means that summer holidays are upon us!!! If you’ve been reading my letters long enough, you will know that I love the summer holidays – I think there is something very important about attaining the right balance of work and rest.
For many years we have heard the phrase ‘work life balance’. Its something that is drilled into us. I have real problems with this phrase, mainly because the term ‘balance’ implies that something is in equal measure. Straight away, when we start to think about this in terms of work and life, you can see the problem, a balance cannot be attained. For one, the working week is 5 days long and the weekend is only 2. The working day for many is 9 -5pm which means that we only have a few hours left in the day before bed.
As you can see its impossibe to attain a balance and automatically we have failed before we even start. This leads to a feeling of failure, it also leads to a feeling of guilt. Guilt that we are not spending as much time with our family as we should. Guilt that we are not keeping up with all the household chores, or investing enough time in our relationships or leisure activities. All of this is not helpful and can, if we’re not careful, ruin the ‘rest time’ that we do manage to get as we then rush about trying to cram in everything that we feel guilty about.
I was reading an article recently which I found very helpful. It’s a simple change to this slogan but a liberating one. In place of ‘Work, Life ‘Balance’, lets use the word ‘rhythm’. Straight away, you can see the difference. Let me explain what I mean. A rhythm is a speed or a tempo. It is something that you can set, something you have control of. I have really found this useful in my working life. Often as a clergyman I do not get much free time. My days are filled with work and my evenings are filled with meetings. This leaves no time for me or the family. I have come to understand over time in ministry there will be very busy periods, this might mean I don’t get a day off for 2 or 3 weeks. However, there will also come a time when things are not so busy and I might be able to take 2 or 3 days off consecutively without feeling guilty. This ‘rhythm’ of life takes away the expectation of ‘balance’ and frees us to look at things differently. Ecclesiastes 3 puts it like this: ‘There is a time for everything, And a season for every activity under the heavens’
God works and He works hard. If we read the creation story you will note that He didn’t have a balance. He created for 6 days and rested for one. However, he set a rhythm for us to learn from. If we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, again we will see Jesus worked tirelessly during his earthly ministry. The crowds would follow demanding and expecting from him. He had very little time to himself. However, if you read your bible, you will notice that after particularly busy periods Jesus did something. Matthew 14:23 puts it like this: ‘After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray’.
Over the summer months, can I encourage you to try and adopt a new ‘rhythm’ in life, one that will enrich and nourish you in your walk with God. One that will enable you to grow in your discipleship. Why not use this time to find a pattern that enables you to spend time with God in the busyness of life. Why not follow the example of Jesus, take yourself away and spend time with your father. Indeed, our recent teaching series on the Lord’s prayer has helped us to see the importance of prayer and it has challenged us to think again on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. If you haven’t heard these sermons do listen to them on our website.