When I tell people I work from home, they nearly always respond in one of two ways: “Oh, that’s awesome! I wish someone would pay me to work from home,” or they say, “I could never do that. I’m not disciplined enough.”
Truth be told, a lack of discipline does show up in my work-at-home environment, just not in the way one would assume.
My lack of discipline manifests itself in my inability to stop working.
The guys I work with can testify to numerous conversations about my problem with quitting work at 5 pm. As a former teacher, I could leave my task list on my desk and walk away at the end of the day, but now that I work from home, there’s no escaping my list. Plus, when you work on the Internet, work is always there. It’s easy to find yourself perusing Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and still thinking of how it fits into the projects you’re currently working on.
However, a few summers ago I began working in my “free” time as an assistant college minister. I was forced to end my workdays on time because I had ministry obligations. It was great for many reasons, but one of the biggest ones was it caused me to adopt a better work-life balance. Or at least that’s what I tried to convince myself because “balance” didn’t happen then either. I quit work early, but I didn’t have a spare moment to breathe.
I’ve spent much of my life believing that the busier I am, the better my life is. I tend to feel guilty if I have too much free time on my hands—like I should be doing more for the Kingdom than just sitting around watching television. And while there is truth in that line of thinking—our time is but a mist and we should not waste it—my life usually ends up looking like one big blur and then there’s a crash.
I saw it happen time and time again when I was younger. I would lead a weeknight Bible study, participate in another one, fill every weekend with fun activities, serve on Sunday mornings, work late multiple evenings, and complain about not having a free night on the calendar. After six months or so, I would end up sick and in the doctor’s office because my body was simply exhausted.
I was reminded of the patterns of my youth not too long ago as I missed almost a week of work because I was sick. It was only a matter of time, really. I had slipped back into old patterns of filling every spare moment of my days with little concern for the rest my body needs in order to function properly.
Recently, I was working through a study of Genesis 1-2 and Creation in The Gospel Project. The day before I ended up sick and in the doctor’s office, I read the following:
[After Creation] God didn’t rest because He was exhausted and needed a break—we know that from other places in Scripture. He’s God. He did not rest because He was tired or worn out. But He knows that after working, we will be…
See, He knows something about us. We have a tendency to try and take His place and act like Him. We have a bent to want to take Him off His throne, even in the most unintentional of ways. And so He wove into the fabric of creation the rhythm of work and rest that must be obeyed if we are to flourish. He has even designed that we sleep a third of our lives away to show us that we’re not God. A third of our lives we lay unconscious, accomplishing nothing but a symphony of snoring, all the while testifying that we’re not God. And that’s our nature. Our purpose is to reflect God, to show God to the world without making ourselves out to be God.”
In my zealous pursuit to be a good steward of the time I’ve been given, I had given little consideration to the fact that my rest is a part of that stewardship, testifying to the fact that I’m not God. While I may be filling my days with good things such as work and ministry, I needed the reminder that I can’t flourish in either of those settings without giving my body rest.
If only I could go back to those younger years and take a few more naps…