As I promised in my last entry, I am exploring further the significance of the balance between work, rest, and play. To start with, is rest for the purpose of wellness and health so that you can be more productive at work? Or is the purpose of rest also a spiritual discipline, giving opportunity to remember and experience that God holds the world together- not us.
In the article I reference in my last post, Schumacher argues that there is something else about rest. Rest allows for the opportunity of play, and joy in its many forms. He argues that play is far more than the consumption of pleasures to compensate for dehumanizing work. Play is something of intrinsic value for its own sake. Here is a link to the article:
I believe the balance between play work and rest can become out of synch easily. The most obvious cause of imbalance is when work looms too large. Principalities and powers of this world create many a workplace that demands more than we can reasonably give. When a job is your sole source of financial revenue it is difficult to weigh your own self interest and health in balance with what your job demands.
In other cases the self drive for success may be the chief source of job related stress. Your employer may not ask from you more than you can give, but you may ask of yourself more than you can afford to give. You may find yourself taking on more overtime hours and responsibilities at work than you would like to give because you are fearful that you will be left behind if you are less career driven than your coworkers. This may also connect with pride, pursuit of legacy, and a sense that your self worth and value in the world is determined by your career.
The catch that comes with a self driven career ambition is that your employer may come to expect this from you and take it for granted that you will put more time and effort in. Your employer may not express much if any concern for how this extra work effects your persona life. When over extending yourself becomes the normal in life, diminished rest and play may also become normal.
When play is diminished outside of work hours, then perhaps one’s ability to approach work playfully and creatively is also silenced. Soon there is a downward spiral of work and no play, rest due to exhaustion instead of rest for the sake of renewal and happiness.
How can this cycle of exhaustion of the spirit be broken? Where do you even start in reclaiming a healthy balance of rest, work and play? The answer is never simple to a complex problem that is as big as life lived in our present day world. But the simple starting point to all of life’s needs and concerns is found in Jesus.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In Christ we have opportunity to once again live in the lightness of God’s perfect love for us. Each and every hard decision about work and personal life balance can be made with the starting point of the rest Jesus provides for us.
In some instances restoring a healthy work rest play balance may require significant changes to work and how time is structured. Perhaps the statement of Jesus that you cannot obey God and mammon applies. In other instances a healthier balance may come through a renewed appreciation of the play opportunities in one’s job, or a greater appreciation of how time away from work may be most wisely used. Again Schumacher’s article is relevant in its emphasis on the difference between entertainment and meaningful recreation.