Hi, my name is Scott, and I’m a workaholic.
I’m not alone. My grandfather had a tough time sitting still and he worked until he was ninety-one. My dad has pastored the same church for over thirty-six years, and he battles the same tendency my grandfather, his father, had. My brother does too.
Like many Americans, I’ve struggled to make rest a regular practice. 48% of Americans consider themselves workaholics with 58% of us checking our emails first thing in the morning.
63% of U.S. workers said they would choose getting paid for leftover sick days rather than having time off for them. The same survey indicated that a majority of American workers consider it routine to monitor work emails outside of work hours.
Too many of us see ourselves in these stats and stories. When I first started facing my workaholic tendencies, a friend told me, “You know if God rested, you can too.”
We see the precedent for a work/rest balance in the first pages of Scripture. , God rests from His work and creates a Sabbath rest which He invites us into with Him. The Sabbath predates the Fall in Genesis 3, so it seems a work/rest rhythm is part of God’s intention for His creation - not the result of sin.
I’ll never forget the day I heard a pastor say, “We need to embrace the truth that the Bible calls those who will not work lazy and those who will not rest disobedient.” According to that message, “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” is perhaps the most broken commandment in the church today.
Later, , Jesus would declare to His followers, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” , He offers an invitation, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
God rested. Jesus invites us to come to Him in order to find true rest. But, how do we get from where we are today and get to that promised place of rest?
Jesus says, the first step is to come to Him. The following is a list of steps that build upon His invitation. Each one leaves plenty of room for personalization. It's important to realize rest will look different as seasons of life change. Resist the temptation to compare your rest to someone else’s! Instead, celebrate your wins and focus on building momentum.
- Start small. Whether your work is a job with an office, or involves caring for an elderly person or your children, imagine what a day away would include. Imagine the experiences which would refresh you. Dream of spending time with God and the people you love, setting aside tasks and responsibilities for another time.
- Add rest into each of your days. Since reading
by Mark Buchanan, I’ve built more momentum with rest and Sabbath than at any other time in my adult life. Buchanan helped me see how God’s intended rhythm for us doesn’t just mean vacations and a weekly Sabbath, but a way of life which includes rest in each of our days. Set a goal to rest every day, even if it’s only for 15-30 minutes.
- Schedule a day each week. As you build momentum, look to schedule one day per week as a Sabbath. For many, following the Christian practice of treating Sunday as Sabbath may work best. For some (including pastors like myself), there may be a need to pick another day. You may even have to get creative. During one crazy period of my life, I set aside 12 pm Friday - 12 pm Saturday as my day of rest each week.
(Romans 6:14), the focus isn’t on which day of the week to choose for rest. Instead, seek to establish a rhythm where you look to God for renewal.
- Use your vacation time. During a year when I was avoiding rest, I got to the end of October and realized that it was seemingly impossible to use my vacation days before New Year’s Day. Many people don’t use all their vacation days, and it can show up in a constant state of stress. Pull out a calendar and schedule your vacation - this is a task you cannot delegate to anyone else.
- Explore how you best connect with God for renewal. In his book , Gary Thomas explores the way our personalities lead us to uniquely experience God’s presence and renewal. Consider experimenting to discover what rest in Christ looks like for you. Your rest may be more about taking some alone time, while another person’s rest might be time with friends and family.
I anticipate you may have lots of questions, excuses, and reasons why you cannot rest in this season in your life. I don’t know your story or present situation. But the discomfort and counter-intuitive nature of this idea is not unique to you or new to our era.
When His followers returned from their first season of ministry without Jesus, He welcomed them back. While the disciples were like kids just back from camp with a million stories and songs to share, Jesus doesn’t seem to engage them with questions or teaching. Instead, He invited them to step away. “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:30-31)
The emails, laundry, notifications, projects, and burdens will be there when you return. However, you will be different because you’ve rested and allowed your Creator to lead you to the kind of abundance that cannot come through a night of binging Netflix.
God rested. Jesus rested. You can too!
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the parents of three “little savages.” He is the creator of the and you can read more of his writing at