“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Col 3:23-24
In the creation account in Genesis 1, we see spanned across 6 days a character of God - He works. We see Him bringing order from the chaos, life from the lifeless, light from the dark. As we read further, we are brought to the very first commandment given to man - to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” In other words, God tells the first man to work and rule over His creation. Why is this important? Because there can be no pursuit of a thriving “work-life” balance without first understanding the inherent value that exists in the work that we do. When we don’t find meaning in the work of our hands, we become cogs in a machine - going through the motions, which often become a fertile ground for job dissatisfaction, stress and ultimately, burn-out.
When I was working as a counselor full-time, it was easy for me to find meaning and purpose in the session, face-to-face with a client. However, there were slow days where I had to fill my time with documentation and research. It was in those mundane, non-relational roles that I found myself feeling the weight of the job. Suddenly, 2-3 sessions became harder to get through than the usual 4-5, going home meant going straight to bed rather than spending time with family,
ordering out became a necessity rather than a luxury. Suffice to say, I was not doing the “balancing act” very well. I realized later on that all work is meaningful work, whether people-facing or not. All the “mundane” tasks were preparing me to serve better. Although I knew this, I didn’t think it mattered.
The simple fact is that it does matter, especially to God. There will be seasons when it seems like the world is yours to conquer, and other seasons when doing the dishes is your biggest achievement! So be it! However, when we keep “the end in mind” we are able to catch a glimpse of how our small role has a part to play in taking care of God’s creation and serving humanity. This is how we, in whatever we do, serve and glorify God - by setting an example of a work ethic driven by an eternal perspective, freeing ourselves from the weight of the mundane and following the mandate of Him whose image we bear by working.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
As we go further into the creation story, we see yet another fascinating act (or rather, non-act) of God - He rests. Of course, God did not rest because He needed to, but He did it anyway. We, on the other hand, need to. One of the 10 commandments given to man and one strictly followed in Jewish tradition is to ‘honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.’ They do this by refraining from working and spending time in communion with God and His people, enjoying His goodness. This is reflective of the ultimate rest God will grant His people. Thus we see that this healthy concept of rest after working was put into motion by our Creator Himself.
“Work-Life” balance is an ideal that is almost impossible to achieve. That is why more and more psychologists are advocating having sustainable rhythms of work and rest instead. While many of us may not have the flexibility or authority to determine our own times of work, we can determine our times of rest. Create a weekly schedule and make sure to add in entries of rest. These are not moments to replace professional work with personal work, these are moments for rejuvenation. Spend time reflecting on God’s goodness, fellowship with a loved one, meditate on the Word a little longer, read a book, listen to or play some music, pray, do some arts & crafts, find a new hobby. These are not just arbitrary things; research has shown that intentional periods of rest can increase productivity. In other words, working less actually helps you get more work done! Know your limits and be a good steward of the work God has given you by, albeit counter-intuitively, allowing yourself to rest in eager expectation of the ultimate rest we will receive in heaven through Christ.
Oh, what a wonderful, eternal Rest that will be!