relaxation“There is no correlation at all between success and hours worked.”

This in-your-face statement is the title of an article by Seth Godin in the June 2001 issue of FAST COMPANY.

Godin notes that “one of the least savoury by-products of the new economy has been an almost complete disregard for sleep, family, and personal time.” (Amen) And he says it is all for naught because success in the new economy is based on making the right decisions and not on the number of hours worked. He says:

“There’s a huge difference between working in a mine or a factory and doing what you do for a living (today). In the old days people made stuff. You don’t make stuff. You make decisions. And the thing about decisions is that you don’t make better decisions when you work longer hours.” (I am assuming that most readers of this column are not miners.)

Fatigue really kills your ability to think outside the box. This is true of life at work. This is also true of life in general.

Our ability to hear the ‘still small voice’ of God is seriously hampered by exhaustion. Which may be why there is so little shalom in our lives and in the world. We are just too tired to do any serious listening. And even if we do hear we are just too tired to make any necessary changes.

That would explain why the Sabbath was such a big thing in the Scriptures.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…” Exodus 20: 8-10a ESV

God has hot-wired us in such a way that we function best when we respect a proper cycle of work and rest.

And we can make time to rest only when we truly believe that God will care for us. If we don’t have a God to care for us than we will be driven by fear as we face the incessant modern demands of “faster, better, cheaper.” We dare not stop. But if God is really our ultimate security than we can work when it is time to work, and we can rest when it is time to rest.

It will truly be a shame if on the last day, we find that we have frittered our lives away, missing out on all the truly significant things in life. Only to discover that we could also have done better at work as well if we had respected God’s principles for a proper work-life balance.

I know many of us are tired. I know may of us are haunted by guilt because we are not giving enough time to the people and things that really matter. Maybe 2002 is the year that we do something about it.

Start by taking some time off just to unplug and rest. Then do some listening. You may be surprised at what He has been trying to tell you. Pleasantly surprised. If the world is to find shalom it has to begin with the people of God.

The Sabbath observance was what marked out Israel as being different from her neighbours. In the 21st century it may be the adherence to a healthy work-life balance that marks us out as His people.