Surprise! Are You Sabotaging Yourself This Way?
Are you sabotaging yourself as a leader by attempting to do more and more and perpetually working? It’s not unusual for leaders to have lofty goals and countless responsibilities that keep them in perpetual motion seven days a week. Sadly, it all adds up to wearing you out!
There was a time when people worked 9-5 during the week and just about everything was closed on Sundays. Today you are slacking if you work regular hours and about the only thing closed on Sundays is Chick-Fil-A.
Unfortunately, working more has a way of sabotaging you.
Less is the new more!
Well, actually, less has always been more! It’s just that fear tricks us into thinking we need to do more, be more, and produce more. Sadly, more never seems to be enough. I know! I’ve tried it too!
A few years back I was caught up in a rather frantic routine that included homeschooling my three children, overseeing children’s ministries at church, and my husband’s demanding work-related travel schedule. There were also deadlines to meet for our publishing company. Getting everything done during the week felt impossible, so for a season my husband and I worked on Sundays editing and typesetting books.
The more we worked on Sundays, the more work there seemed to be. The never-ending cycle was exhausting! In reality, we were sabotaging ourselves!
Eventually God whispered to me, “Stop working on Sunday! Trust me,” He said, “Rest, relax, be with me and enjoy your family on Sunday. See how I make your time more effective.”
I confess this request evoked fear in me. I doubted that everything would get done during the week. It seemed impossible, but impossible is just the kind of challenge God delights in.
My husband and I made the decision to set aside our fear and to obey. No more working on Sundays. We trusted that God would make a way for us to accomplish the work that needed to be done on the other six days.
It wasn’t long before we noticed that we were encountering fewer problems, our business was thriving, and that we were experiencing significantly less stress.
Today, many are working at home so the boundary between work and life is more blurred than ever. With the changes brought on by the pandemic it’s all the more necessary to embrace your limits and stop sabotaging yourself! You need a Sabbath!
We learned some valuable lessons in the season of life! We learned that the Sabbath is about…
Somewhere along the line we had come to believe that the Sabbath was just about rest. With a life jammed with responsibilities we had come to believe two myths: first that we couldn’t afford to rest and second that didn’t need to do things God’s way. It seems crazy when you put it down in black and white like that, but that’s what our behavior was saying.
Resting takes a significant amount of faith! It often feels counterproductive to take a break from the demands of work and trust that God knows what must get done. It means truly letting God be the One in charge, and surrendering it all to Him. That’s hard, and yet when you do take the time to rest, it blesses you in all sorts of ways. It spurs on your ability to be creative and it allows God the opportunity to intervene on your behalf. I am often amazed at the inventive ways He works out the details. Even better, He ends up getting the glory because you didn’t make it all happen. He delights in that!
Taking intentional time to rest also helped us to recognize our limits. Working at capacity seven days a week is not sustainable for humans. Not only does perpetually working have an impact on the quality of your work, but also your attitude, health, well-being, and relationships too! Over extending yourself is sabotaging yourself!
Observing the Sabbath was an Old Testament law (Deut. 5) with specific procedures for that day that included much more than not working. The Sabbath was about setting that day apart from other days and keeping it holy. While many still observe the Sabbath guidelines in an Old Testament sort of way, as New Testament believers, the bigger issue is the heart behind how you spend your Sabbath.
How is God asking you to set aside time – Sunday or some other day during the week, depending on your particular situation? How will He be glorified? The Sabbath is about making Him the priority rather than legalistically keeping Sabbath rituals.
A vacation naturally provides a break where I can step back and evaluate my life and work more objectively. With time to relax, my mind is free to dream and creatively explore the possibilities in ways that just don’t happen in the normal day to day.
The same thing takes place on a smaller scale when I take time to rest and focus on Him on the Sabbath. It allows me to enter the work week with a renewed focus and energy that just isn’t possible without a break. When I am filled up, that’s when I am at my best!
I actually adore working. It’s easy for me to let work be the source of my identity. I know I am not alone. In fact, the first question we often ask someone we meet for the first time is “What do you do? Or “What line of work are you in?” Questions like that only reinforce the idea of work being the source of our identity.
God’s longs to be the source of our identity. When we lack that perspective, it triggers our Fear Monster.
When I am racing from one task to the next, it’s hard to savor the richness of life. I don’t have time to notice the small stuff that makes life meaningful. Rather than appreciate life, I become easily irritated when something takes longer than expected or doesn’t go according to plan. When I slow down, I am able to be more intentional about savoring life, operating out my values, and maintaining my priorities in a way that tends to linger throughout the week.
If you have that overwhelmed and exhausted feeling, perhaps you’ve been skipping the Sabbath. Or maybe observing the Sabbath isn’t new for you, but the day has grown stale. How can you freshen up how you rest?
It’s time to stop sabotaging yourself!
When it comes to observing the Sabbath, what have you learned?
“If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God’s holy day as a celebration, If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there – Then you’ll be free to enjoy God! Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all. I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.” Yes! God says so! Isaiah 58:13-14 (MSG)