Work was enjoyable because of the rest given.
Rest gave proper perspective on the work ahead.
Purpose was found in having the work, but also the rest to reflect.
“When’s your day off?”
In my experience, this is a common conversation with pastors. Other leaders experience it as well, but the self-managed world of most pastors makes it unique in their setting. Depending on who you were talking to, the question could be packed with meaning. Many pastors are on call throughout the week, even if their job descriptions do not explicitly state it. It just seems to come with the territory. So when asked, I found it was either to help me protect it as sacred space for rest, or it was the beginning of a longer conversation (or pontification) regarding the legitimacy of needing a day off. Usually if it was the latter, there was a strong sense of either it not being earned, not being deserved, and that it was an anomaly.
The topic was so easily inflated that at one point I was told not to tell someone it was my day off.
Spiritually or secularly speaking, that is a bad philosophy of rest. If the assumption of misunderstanding is greater than the conversation of how we provide rest, take rest, and make rest taking natural, then another conversation needs to be had. I have been part of both a healthy discussion and unhealthy atmosphere in leadership on the topic of rest being part of scheduled work rhythm. Believe me, the former is much more enjoyable. When we have to justify the legitimacy of rest, we may already be in a troublesome situation.
A question I often ask people that struggle with taking a day off, especially on the grounds of perception, is simply this: What did God do after creating humans?
The answer: He rested. And that was humanity’s first experience of creation.
Rest, and the joy of creation. They did not earn this rest, but they got it anyway. While God looked on the splendor of his creative work, he allowed his final piece of creation to enjoy it as well. In an orderly fashion, something was given so that humanity started the rest of their lives with a better perspective on the work at hand. As a wise man once told me, the first people were given rest as a way to gain proper perspective on the week, rather than as something to look forward to while working.
It seems simple enough to me now, even if I still struggle to take the time for it:
Today I have no problem telling other pastors and leaders to schedule time for rest and perspective, without excuse. And it comes up in many conversations, especially considering my time of burnout and reorienting of self. Real transformation and purposeful work come out of a week, month, year, and of course, day, that have all been founded on what is right and necessary.