Between our work life, home life, social life, and our life tethered to mass media and communication, it’s hard not to feel the weight of living multiple lives all at once. So many outlets of information and responsibility fight for our attention every day, yet we only have so much time and mental/physical capacity to take it in. How do we live well in a time of such demand? By learning how to properly rest.
Between our work life, home life, social life, and our life tethered to mass media and communication, it’s hard not to feel the weight of living multiple lives all at once.
So many outlets of information and responsibility fight for our attention every day, yet we only have so much time and mental/physical capacity to take it in.
How do we live well in a time of such demand? By learning how to properly rest.
In this blog, I will be covering what the Bible tells us about rest and why pastors need to address the topic of rest in today’s world.
First, it’s important to break down some of the factors in our lives that may be causing stress and making it harder for us to achieve a sense of rest.
These stress factors can be generalized into three categories:
Achieving a work-life balance in today’s world can be difficult.
According to personal finance reporter Pete Grieve: while the work hours clocked in for Americans have gone down from an average of 2,000 hours per year in the ‘50s and ‘60s to 1,750 hours as of 2023, the U.N.’s International Labour Organization (ILO) shows “that the average number of working hours per year was higher in the U.S. than in six developed countries used in the study’s comparison.”
Furthermore, IT and recruitment agency Apollo Technical states that “In terms of work-life balance, 94% of service professionals in the U.S. spend over 50 hours working per week, while many of these people work on the weekends.” In addition to this alarming statistic, Apollo Technical says that 48% of Americans believe themselves to be “workaholics” and 77% of full-time American employees have experienced burnout.
It’s not only common for Americans to work longer hours, but Apollo Technical explains that employees tend to take their work home; that “many Americans work on the weekends on top of working longer workweeks, and for many people, the work never stops.”
The risk of these work environments, as Grieves puts it, is “‘Overemployed’ workers often struggle with work-life balance, and ‘overemployment’ is associated with more health issues, alcoholism, family conflict, etc., according to the ILO.”
When talking about extended work hours, a major factor that contributes to this work-life balance is the immediacy of media and advanced communication; in other words, the access to smartphones, social media, email, search engines, television, etc.
While these sorts of technological advancements benefit us in a lot of ways –– giving us quick access to useful information, allowing us to stay in touch, and giving us the option to work remotely –– it can be hard to draw a boundary line between being present and having our attention pulled in every which direction.
Jack Flynn of career research website Zippia has compiled a 2023 list of “18 AVERAGE SCREEN TIME STATISTICS,” allowing us to see a statistical breakdown of how much screen time we use daily.
According to this list:
With this much screen time, we may be leisurely taking in content that entertains or encourages us. Still, we also might be stressing over the demands of work or trying to make sense of the world’s problems with the ongoing news cycle of global events. With this kind of immediacy of information, we can be affected by stress or anxiety anywhere from our workspaces to the comfort of our own homes.
Lastly, between the time we have dedicated to work and screens, there are the responsibilities of our own lives. This is the time we make for ourselves: doing chores, running errands, focusing on our health, and maintaining relationships with friends, family, and partners.
This of course is important in maintaining our own physical and mental well-being. Though, due to the busyness of work or the distraction of screens, maintaining our own lives can sometimes feel like another chore on the to-do list; another reason for stress or burnout.
While it’s clear that life is busy, how does the Bible touch on this?
When looking at Genesis 2:15, we may see that “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Although work is called upon us, we see in just a few verses before this that God also models for us a time of rest:
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Gen 2:2-3).
What God displays here is where the Jewish tradition of sabbath comes from –– “sabbath” literally means “to rest” in Hebrew.
Now, while “sabbath” is seen as a more legalistic tradition of the Old Testament, appearing as the fourth commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” Exodus 20:8) and even being punishable by death for disobedience to it (“Everyone who profanes it [the Sabbath] shall be put to death” Exodus 31:14), Jesus’ establishment of the new law invites us to come and have rest through Him. While Jesus challenged the law of the traditional sabbath, He commanded “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
So what does this mean for us in today’s world?
With the demand for labor and our attention, along with constant exposure to widely varying sources of information, it’s important for pastors to teach on the subject of rest in today’s busy society.
This emphasis on rest should not only educate the congregation on what Bible verses say about rest but also exemplify what it means for us to find rest in Jesus.
Scott Hubbard of the ministry Desiring God poses the question “And how do we enter that rest?” Answering with “Not mainly by putting aside our weekly labors for one day in seven, but by believing: ‘We who have believed enter that rest.’ Faith in Jesus Christ brings the rest of the seventh day into every day.”
In addressing the topic of rest, pastors should challenge themselves with this same question and further answer it with how this might look in our everyday lifestyle: is it a change of mindset? Is it simply spending more time with Jesus in the Word and in prayer? Or should we as Christians be prioritizing a day of rest?
This focus on rest is not only helpful for the congregation but also for pastors. The job of a pastor is a calling with many responsibilities that are by no means unaffected by burnout.
When answering the question of how we must rest, pastors now have access to sermon writing tools to not only assist in the research process but also in making sermon preparation easier through generating sermon outlines, character studies, and modern-day examples of biblical topics.
Living in a busy world can distract us from what’s important. In these times of busyness and distraction, pastors should properly lead the congregation in how to find rest through Jesus and His Word.