Doing Good Work

Work is part of daily life for most people. We use our minds and our muscles to create and contribute to our world.

Work is an essential part of why we were created. In Genesis 2: 15 we read, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (ESV). This happened before the Fall, where Adam and Eve sinned and received God’s judgement. And this is part of who we were created to be. When God finished creating the world, we are told he “rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2: 3). We are created in the image of God, so we are created – in part – to work. The ideal life is not one without work, but one in which we find joy in our work.

Work became harder after the Fall, after Adam and Eve sinned. Genesis 3: 17 – 19 tells us that work now became more difficult.

“…cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread…”

God also created us to rest. God created us for a regular rhythm of work and rest. He created for six days and then rested on the seventh. All throughout the Old Testament God continued to tell his people, to work for six days, then rest on the seventh.

Many of us work jobs that have shift work that doesn’t line up with a seven-day work week, but we can all make sure to rest when we have our days off. We fulfill our purpose as we keep a rhythm of work and rest.

The New Testament agrees with Genesis: we are created to work. Ephesians 2: 10 tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. When we come to faith in Jesus, he works in us to do good works. There is no instruction about what these exact works are to look like or how we are to go about them. Instead, we are told in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Whatever we do, whether we are working or taking a day off, whether we are spending time with friends or attending a church service, we are to do everything we do for the glory of God!

Like most of life, how we handle work requires balance. On one extreme is the lazy worker, the one who slacks off as soon as the boss walks away. This is the one who takes extra long breaks and helps himself to supplies from the shop for his own projects at home. This is the worker who does whatever he can to keep his contribution to the company to a minimum. If this is you, then you have some serious questions to ask yourself. How are you reflecting the creator in your work? How are you doing your work for the glory of God?

On the other extreme is the workaholic. This is the one who prides himself in how many hours he has put in this week. I have heard pastors boast about how many hours they work each week, as if this makes them extra special. Or maybe they feel this shows how much they are willing to sacrifice in order to serve the church. Sacrificing your energy, time with your spouse and your family, or even time with God is not a sacrifice that God is going to be impressed with. Boasting about how many years you have gone without a holiday does not make you a good worker in God’s eyes. Where is the balance of work and rest? Where is the understanding that work is one priority in your life, not the main one. How many, men especially, have poured their lives into their work and had no time and energy to pour into their kids at home? Sometimes we may find ourselves in a situation in which we need to work more hours than allows for a good balance, whether this is due to financial stress, busy events or seasons at work, or many other life circumstances. However, if you choose to work beyond what leads to a healthy life for you and your family, it is likely time to re-evaluate your priorities.

In the middle is the balance we are all trying to find. Putting in a good day’s work and having time to love and play with your family is ideal. Christians should always do good work. We should be able to echo the evaluation of God at the end of Creation: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1: 31). We should be proud of our efforts at work, and what our effort accomplishes. And we should be proud of the time we have to pour into our family and what those efforts accomplish.

I write with the Christian leader in mind. So, Christian leader, how are you doing with your work and rest, and work and family balance? And don’t get caught up in the mindset that we have to work hard for and at the church at the cost of time with family. The father who desires to have a reputation of someone always serving the church needs to balance their efforts at the church with their time with their family as well.

We are created to work, and to rest. May God guide you as you balance your work and the rest of your life.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Rest, Refresh, Re-energize!

I realized that I did not take a day off last week, and it showed. I was more tired by the end of the week than I usually am. I felt a push to get certain things done and decided to work on them on my day off. Most of us get a day or more off from work each week, and if you work shift work you may get a few days or weeks off after putting in several weeks in a row.

Time off should be a time to rest, refresh, and energize:

A Change of Routine

Some say that a change is as good as a rest. I’m not sure that is true, but a change of routine can be good for us. If we always go in to work, a day home can be a good change. If you work from home, not logging onto your computer for the day might be a good change or spending the day out of the house going shopping and running errands might be a welcome change. Your mind can take in a different set of stimuli than it has at work all week. It uses different parts of your brain to do these tasks than what you would do at work. You may use different muscles on a day off which can benefit your body.

A Rest

Rest is not easy to get in our busy lives, but a day off may allow you to sleep in a bit or grab a nap in the afternoon. You can demand less of your body, giving it a rest as well.

If you regularly spend your day on the computer, you can rest your eyes. I didn’t feel I needed rest on my last day off, so I worked instead. At the end of the week, I realized a restful day would have been of benefit in the long run. I may have had a little more energy to carry me through the next week.

Do Errands

All of us have things on our to-do-lists. Some of them have been there for a while. We may be able to be more focused at work if we know that we cleared some of those items off our list at home. If we have maintenance on our house or car that should have been done but has been put off, that can hang on us all week at work. Do the things you need to at home on your day off so you can focus on your work through the next week.

Catch up with Friends

Some of us have few friends. Is it because we never take time to connect with people outside of work. If your “work friends” are true friends, then hopefully you do some fun things together outside of work. Most of us will have other friendships that we maintain outside of work. Do something fun together. It could be a simple dinner out or a game night together. Find people who charge you up. We all know people who drain us. Those are not people you want to spend your time off with. You can’t afford to be drained from your time off and then head back to work exhausted. Get together with friends who pour into you and energize you.

Learn Something

I like to read. That is relaxing and energizing at the same time for me. I want to learn and be challenged. Learn something new. If you like working around the house, you could watch a YouTube video about how to place tile on your kitchen counter. Or you could sign up for a self-directed online course that you can work on a bit every time you have some time off. You could even watch baking shows, both for the entertainment, but also to learn another trick to try the next time you bake.

Do Something Meaningless

Some of us are so driven that we feel we can’t “waste” any time. Every day has to accomplish something.

Maybe you just need to watch a movie for fun or go feed ducks. Maybe you need to make a fire in the backyard and just watch the flames and enjoy a s’more or two. Read a fiction book to let your imagination run wild.

Do Something Meaningless

Some of us are so driven that we feel we can’t “waste” any time. Every day has to accomplish something. Maybe you just need to watch a movie for fun or go feed ducks. Maybe you need to make a fire in the backyard and just watch the flames and enjoy a s’more or two. Read a fiction book to let your imagination run wild.

Use your time off, whether it is a weekly day or a week each month, to rest, refresh, and re-energize yourself for the next stretch of work. Take time to slow down and enjoy life.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Plan a Restful, Renewing Break

Some people come home after a holiday, wishing they had a week off at home to recover. Holidays are not always restful. Sometimes we use vacation time to meet up with family, which can be really good – or really draining. Sometimes we fill our vacation with so much activity that we come home exhausted.

We all need a break from time to time. For many people, these next two months are the window within which we can plan our holidays. The weather is nice, the kids are out of school, and many organizations slow down over the summer.

It is the perfect time to take some time off. But there is a big difference between taking time off for a busy vacation and having a restful and renewing break from the busyness of life.

If you need a week off to recover from your vacation, you are too busy on your vacation.

It is tempting to use our holiday time to do the many things we wished we could do all year. Maybe we stay home but are constantly on the go with golfing in the morning and swimming with the kids in the afternoon and campfire with family in the evening. While all those things are great, unless we actually take time to slow down, many of us will feel just as tired, if not more, when we return to work.

Is the summer the best time to take a vacation?

Many of us assume that we must take our vacation in the summer, but is that true? Is that best for you and your family? Do you already have weekends off? Why not make the most of them during the summer? Enjoy the slower time in the office and the relaxation of being home with the kids without running off to all kinds of sports or school activities. If you are one of the families who have kids in summer sports you may not have this luxury.

Vacation during a busy season may be more helpful.

Some of us may have the freedom to take a vacation during other times of the year. You might even benefit from lower off-season prices at hotels and vacation spots. In this way, taking time off during a busier work season can be more refreshing than during a time of year that may be slower. If it is possible to take a week off during one of your busy times, you may just come back with more energy and get more done than if you just pushed through as usual.

But we have to take holidays when the kids are out of school!

One father said, “We never let education interfere with our holidays.” You may be able to take your children out of school for a bit if they are in lower grades and they won’t miss much. As they get older you could take your vacation during their school breaks in the middle of the year. If you are really concerned about what they will miss in school, ask the teachers if they can give you some assignments for the kids to work on during your time away.

Find ways to rest and be refreshed and renewed.

There are times to plan holidays with every day and hour filled with activity. There are other times where you recognize you need more sleep and time to slow down and just be. If you are a normal busy family you might benefit from time to just be together without having all kinds of activities on the agenda. Maybe you can rent a cabin on the lake, or go to a resort, and then just do whatever comes up in the day. Feel free to go for a swim when you want, or nap beside the pool. If you like reading, bring a good book. If your family plays board games, bring some to play in the evenings. Just enjoy being together and resting from your busy life.

Take your vacation time!

There are people who pride themselves on not taking all their vacation time. That is ridiculous! If you have the time, why not take it? If you don’t get paid holidays and don’t have money to do much, make your time off count with a “stay-cation” in your own backyard. Take the time for yourself and your marriage and your family that is available to you. Treasure the time you have together while you still can!

Give yourself permission to slow down and do the “nothing” of relaxing. There are times when it is quite okay that we haven’t accomplished anything in the day, except be together with the people who matter the most. Take your time to slow down and relax so you are ready to go back to your busy lives when the vacation is over.

Have a great summer, and if you are on vacation, take time to slow down.

Keep looking up,