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We will all float along this scale throughout our lives, finding ourselves leaning too far into a season of laziness disguised as rest, or too far into a season of striving instead of serving. This scale isn’t meant to be a permanent description of our lives, but a tool to keep our hearts in check so we can take the necessary steps to slide back into the middle, where God asks us to both work hard and rest well.
If you found yourself on the striving side of the scale today, take some time right now to write down all the jobs you’re doing. Spend time thinking about and praying over that list, asking God to reveal your motivations. What are your real motivations behind the goals you’ve set for yourself and the items on that to-do list? Who is getting the glory through that work? Where are you ignoring the nudges of God to say no to something good so He can make room for something great? Where are you afraid you’ll miss out on something important if you don’t participate/attend/impress?
Write down anything God reveals to your heart and make a conscious decision to lay your agenda at the foot of the cross every morning, waiting on what God wants you to do that day. Grab a Post-it note and write down Luke 18:7 from The Message to remind you that you don’t need to be the one who fights—God will take care of you.
“Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet.”
Maybe you found yourself pretty far over on the rest side of the scale today. Rest, grace, and soul-care are all good things. Our hearts need time to refill from the emotional exertion of the week. Our minds need rest and respite from the intellectual efforts of our days. And our souls need time and space to reconnect with God so we can hear His still, small voice over the bossy demands of the world. But when we stay in those seasons of rest beyond the refueling our bodies, minds, and hearts need, we become less effective for God’s kingdom.
Think of it this way: When you work out, your body is being pushed to its maximum to allow the muscle fibers to break down. You reach a period of fatigue when your muscles fail because you’ve done all the work you can do, and now they need to recover. As your muscles rest and you fuel your body with the right kinds of food, those fatigued muscle fibers are rebuilt—now stronger than they were before. If instead you skip the hard work entirely and stop using those muscles, they atrophy. You become weak, and simple tasks become a struggle. Your body requires a balance of work and rest to give it strength.
When you think about the tasks God has given you to do, have an honest conversation with yourself. Have you been neglecting them? Have you chosen an extended season of rest that has allowed your spiritual muscles to atrophy? Are the activities you’re choosing to do when you rest filling you with joy and energy, or do you feel even more tired than when you started? Write down where God is revealing that you’ve taken rest a little too far, and ask Him where He wants you to start using your gifts again. Write Psalm 18:1 from The Message on a Post-it note to remind you that the work we’re called to isn’t meant to be done in our strength:
“I love you, GOD—you make me strong.”
For those of you who found yourself hovering beautifully near that sweet spot in the middle, where working hard and resting well meet? Welcome to holy hustle. This is the place God designed for us with His example of work at the very beginning of time. With God’s agenda in charge and our to-do lists given over to His will, we get to work. Interruptions in our days aren’t meant to be frustrating, but are instead invitations to watch with anticipation for the new things God is going to do in our day. When we prioritize people over programs, God’s glory over our success, and choose faith instead of fame, we can release the guilt of working hard and say good-bye to the shame of resting well.
In this space, we can make an impact on our families, our friends, our communities, and our coworkers because we are at our peak spiritual and physical condition. With each day of hard work, we grow stronger in obedience, love, compassion, encouragement, self-control, and faith. With each day of resting well, we refuel with the people, places, and activities that bring us refreshment and joy.
If you haven’t given God the glory for a recent success or opportunity, do it now, praising Him for what He has done in your life and through your work. On another Post-it note, write Colossians 2:7 from The Message as a reminder to give thanks for all God has done to get you to this place:
“Let your living spill over into thanksgiving.”
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