No really, I do. Perhaps you will have more success than I did. I only got as far as episode three before the guilt set it. As 10.30am rolled around, all the "I should's" started to getting that much louder. I should do the laundry...should tidy the house...should get some work done... Perhaps you have heard them before too.
The experiment was not going to plan. I had been feeling tired—no, exhausted—for a few months. Then out of the blue, I had woken up that morning with the strong impression that I was to do as little as possible. Strangely to me, I even felt that God was in it. Being as tired as I was, I leapt at the idea. When I got home from dropping off my daughter at school, I changed into my baggiest, daggiest clothing, made myself breakfast and prepared to binge-watch the gilded historical mini-series "Victoria." I was on a mission to do absolutely nothing, all day (save keep my children alive).
But by episode three I was feeling the heat. The guilt and restlessness would not quit. I could almost hear the dishes screaming for me to get my lazy butt in the kitchen and attend them. This was not turning out to be the peaceful day I had hoped for. I managed to persevere through another episode before succumbing to the urge to "do something." Even if the exercise was a "failure" however, it was a success in the sense that it revealed to me how much I am accustomed to constantly being on the go.
Modern life is full of distractions and it is easy to find comfort even in the unrelenting busyness. For one, it can numb us from taking the time to confront any issues we need to deal with. But, like waves pounding against rocks, the daily grind slowly wears us down over time.
Periodically, we need to unplug from life. It's not about escaping reality— it's about coming aside and gaining the strength we need to face the realities of life.
This practice can be especially hard for ministers. I have heard about ministers using their vacation time to squeeze in some extra ministry. When ministers try and rest, there is often an added layer of guilt— "sanctified" guilt, we'll call it. "I should be studying the Word. I should be praying. I should be making phone calls. I should be ministering to so-and-so." While these are all noble things, it is also important to give yourself permission to do things that you enjoy, purely because you find pleasure in them. Let's not label the things we do for fun as "secular." I am fairly sure that when Jesus had wrapped up a big day of preaching and was sailing across the sea of Galilee to his next destination, he was able to squeeze in a laugh with the disciples, a conversation about something totally irrelevant to his ministry. I imagine Jesus and the disciples enjoying being in each others company, and having times when they "let down their hair," so to speak. If we have issues imagining the Son of God having fun, then maybe we need to re examine our theology—it directly impacts on our perception of how acceptable it is to put work aside for a moment.
Pastor's wife and church consultant, Dianne Finkelde, recommends scheduling regular time in your agenda for "self-care." She stresses the importance of remembering that even those in ministry are also flesh and blood, and that we need to take time out to exercise, read a book or have a coffee. If we don't, it always catches up with us in the end.
So let's get rid of the idea that resting, "doing nothing" for a designated period of time is somehow "unholy." It's okay to have a hobby, something that is completely unrelated to ministry. So long as it is good, clean fun, that's great! Who knows, maybe in those moments of being untense and carefree, you might even hear God speak to you! (What a thought!)
So today, I challenge you to make time in the near future to do nothing (whatever that looks like to you). If you want to pray or read the Word, great. But if you want to read a book, ride your bike, or watch a show— purely because you enjoy it— that's okay too. Happy resting!