Part Seven: Work and Rest

By Cameron Silsbee

Begin with prayer (5 minutes)

Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have someone lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.

Debrief the teaching in triads (15 minutes)

If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally the same gender).

Spend a few minutes catching up on life…

Then talk through the following debrief questions:

  1. As you explored your relationship roles this last week did you find it an easy task to intentionally structure your relationships, or did it prove challenging? What were the emotions that were present as you did the Practice (excitement, frustration, hopefulness, guilt, anxiety, etc.)?
  2. Did you see any helpful connections begin to develop with other categories of your Rule of Life? For example, did less screen time from your Rule of Digital Life make it easier to intentionally spend time with your spouse or friends? Or did you commit to a rhythm of weekly Bible Study with a close friend for your Mind category?

Read this overview

From the opening pages of the Scriptures, God instilled the creation with a rhythm of work and rest. He created humanity in his image, endowing us with the privilege of carrying out his caring and creative rule and reign on the Earth. God also rested from work on the seventh day, speaking blessing over the practice of resting from work.

This rhythm is often out of balance for us. For some, the cultural pressure to idolize work and accomplishment leads to a culturally-approved devaluing of rest. Your identity can become tethered to your success, and your accomplishments. When this happens, rest becomes an obstacle rather than a blessing, taking on oppressive undertones as it tends to “get in the way” of your work.

For others, a culturally warped view of “rest” dominates. Countless hours are devoured staring at a smartphone screen, Instagram, the next Netflix series, another YouTube video, a video game. Rest gives way to “vegging out”. Work, personal projects, or school become activities that cause annoyance and produce complaints as you yearn for the moment when you can “rest”.

But in the Bible, both work and rest are good! The Scriptures help shape our imaginations away from these cultural (mis)understandings of work and rest and towards a much more vibrant, life-giving, balanced understanding of these two. Creating a Rule of Life for Work and Rest helps balance both with boundaries and intentionality. 

Do this Practice as a Community right now (15–20 minutes)

Work is more (but not less) than your nine-to-five. Your work may be a stay-at-home-parent, or volunteering for a non-profit or outreach. You don’t have to be financially compensated to consider something your work. 

Something that can intersect our work is our calling or vocation. Vocation is the work you do in partnership with Jesus that you are particularly gifted to do with the intention to further God’s Kingdom. This could be shaping your kids as apprentices of Jesus, working for a non-profit, or manufacturing products in a manner that reflects the ethics of the Kingdom. You may or may not be carrying out your vocation at your nine-to-five.

A helpful starting place for creating your Rule of Life for Work and Rest is to make sure you have a grasp of what each does and does not entails. Read aloud the brief description of Work and Rest, and discuss the questions together.

  1. What do you do for work? (remember you may or may not be financially compensated for your work) 
  2. Have you found your vocation? If so, what is it? If not, why is this the case?
  3. How many hours per week do you devote to doing or exploring your vocation?

Rest is not the same thing as “vegging out”. The sort of Rest that God spoke blessing over was one that engages us at a deeper level. Keeping a Sabbath day of Rest has been the historical pattern for followers of Jesus. It is a 24 hour period where work ceases, and one’s mind is turned to gratitude, delight, and enjoyment of our relationship with God and others. 

Sabbath is a time set aside to slow down from the rhythm of work and vocation in order that our mind, body, and spirit may be refreshed. Rest can also look like taking an extended break from work in the form of a vacation. Removing ourselves from the normal pace and routine of life to slow down for an extended period of time enables us to come back to our Work and vocation with a refreshed disposition. 

Discuss your answers to these questions about Rest:

  1. Do you currently keep a day of Rest? If so, what does it look like?
  2. What are things that tend to hinder your day of Rest (i.e. poor planning, restlessness, poor boundaries, etc.)
  3. What are some things that hinder you from taking vacation (i.e. finances, difficult schedule, etc.) How could you be creative in getting around these things?

Discuss the coming week’s Practice (5 minutes)

The Practice for this week is to begin drafting what will become your Rule of Life for Work and Rest. Remember, your Rule of Life is written with a pencil, not a pen. You will have to adapt it as seasons of life shift and change. 

This week, take time to do the following:

Set aside 30 minutes this week to pray and think through the following questions. As you do so, write down your answers.

Before you begin, acknowledge the presence of God’s Spirit with you and ask him to speak as you work through these questions. 

  1. Are you content with your current work? If not, why do you think this is? What do you think you should do about it?
  2. Are you operating in your vocation? If so, what would it look like to grow in this area (more time, training, etc.)? If you’re not, what do you need to do to explore your vocation? (See the Practice: Discovering Your Identity and Calling)
  3. How much of a priority for you is keeping a day of rest or taking a vacation?
  4. What are specific things you can do to prioritize a day of rest and taking a vacation (planning, good boundaries, financial planning, etc. See the Practice: Sabbath).?
  5. Write out the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual rhythms for Work (including your vocation) and Rest. 

Example for Work: No more than 9 hours of work in a day. 4 hours a week devoted to pursuing my vocation. Monthly reading a book to help me increase my vocation skills. Annually spending half a day praying and reflecting on ways I can bring my work and vocation more closely aligned.

Example for Rest: Once a week take a day to rest. Quarterly take a three day weekend. Once a year take a week-long vacation traveling somewhere out of the area (if financially untenable, taking two long weekends for a nearby and inexpensive getaway).

A good starting baseline would be to consistently devote a set time to exploring your vocation, and once a week setting aside a day to rest. 

Work through these discussion questions before you call it a night (5–10 minutes)

  1. How does the idea of balancing work and rest strike you? 
  2. Do you anticipate this Practice affecting other areas of your Rule of Life? How so?

Close in prayer (5 minutes)