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However you are serving God at the moment, it’s probably got aspects which are exciting and flowing well, as well as aspects which are challenging and a bit tough. The key to longevity is to develop a rhythm of life which provides respite from work so that we can take action that is centred around a different focus for a time. No matter your discipleship shape, each of us benefits from intentional daily, weekly, monthly and annual breaks to reflect, refresh spiritually and recapture the life of abundance which comes from connecting with God.
Taking time to listen to God every day often aligns our priorities to reflect what is important to Him rather than just managing the next thing on our list of tasks. A portion of each day where you read scripture, pray and wait on God’s presence can be an oasis in a life that might feel chaotic. Recalibrating regularly will keep you close to God’s heart as you serve in your unique context. It is also brilliant to be able to unburden ourselves as we pray and hand things over to God to manage on our behalf. A daily diversion refreshes, refocusses and reframes our life.
Being busy is not a badge of honour. It is rare in our society for people to say that they spent the weekend at home, not doing much, just taking a rest. Even after a day’s work, we are heading out the door to DO more. Withdrawing weekly creates a circuit breaker where we can change our pace and get some rest. It takes effort and planning to have a break. Your physical and mental health requires it. You’ll need to remind yourself that you don’t have to justify your decision to anyone else. Do some things on this day that “fill your cup”. This might be breakfast with your partner, a sleep in, doing something creative, spending some time in nature, going to a movie. A reminder that this day is not an opportunity to catch up on email or paperwork or squeeze in an extra meeting; the purpose is to withdraw to rest. Even Jesus took time to withdraw from the crowds to the mountains (Luke 5:16), so put the guilt about not being productive aside, and plan a day a week to withdraw.
Your life doesn’t just happen – there are many routines and processes which you have in place to maintain it. You probably do the grocery shopping on the same day each week so that you have enough food. You probably get your car serviced regularly so that it keeps running well. Living a life that God has called you to live is similar to these things in that it needs a monthly review to check that it’s sustainable in the long term.
You can ask yourself a series of questions, or spend time with a supervisor, mentor or trusted friend with whom you can be honest. Are there things that need to be added, removed or tweaked? Am I spending too much time on something that is not helpful? Have I neglected daily exercise? Do I need to book an appointment with a health professional? When did I last spend uninterrupted time with my children? Who can I ask to help me with a difficult task? Ask yourself this question: Am I practising rhythms that allow me to keep up and maintain the life I believe God has called me to live?
Once a year, take time off to abandon yourself to God. Ideally, this would be attending a conference, a retreat; having a break away from home for an extended period. A long weekend isn’t long enough fully reset.
If finances are a limiting factor, a staycation at home can be just as good as getting away, but it only works if you can set aside your usual routines and pick up activities that are focussed on your spiritual health. Let people know that you’re on retreat and put an “out of office reply” on your email. Even though you are home, you’re not available.
Find ways to lean into God during this time; try some creative pursuits, reflective activities and get some external, thought provoking input. If you’re at a conference or retreat, you’ll be following that prescribed rhythm, but if you’re by yourself, you’ll need to do some pre-planning so that the time is beneficial. By intentionally connecting to God for a longer period of time, you’ll return to your normal life with a new perspective.
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