Rest is the discipline of relaxing, regrouping and replenishing our souls, minds and bodies. Thriving Leaders know how to take time apart from their front line duties to rest, to “be” and not just “do”.
Leadership has a slippery slope. Being effective in leadership often gives us an adrenaline jolt that is addictive. The jolt keeps us wanting more. But more is never enough. Performance desire hides our need for rest. We short-circuit our bodies and minds. Early in my work as a church leader, someone who knew my schedule said, “Wow. You are busy, Denn. You get so much done in our church. Your week has been brim full of events, people and more. Congratulations!” I felt honored and thanked. But I missed seeing the sickness: addiction to work, addiction to praise of others. ‘Work hard and you’ll be happy. People will love you.” I was so sick I took work with me on our vacations. When my wife Susan objected, I’d say, “It’s all for God.”
My addiction to work nearly cost me my life. Illness sidelined me for a few months. I was forced to empty my schedule. God led me into the valley of darkness where I saw my dark side, the addictive habit of work to hide my deep sense of inadequacy. I knew I needed help to learn to relax, slow down and recover my identity as a child of God and not as a busy pastor.
I deeply believe that God led me to a group of men who were learning to slow down. For two years I met twice monthly in a Type A recovery group of 7 men and a psychologist. We learned that our tendency to be a super-hero masks our insecure self. We learned to accept our insecurity and practice Type B skills of being patient, non-reactive, restful, kind and undemanding. These are skills that I practice today, some 12 years later.
Resting without feeling guilty was and is a major milestone in my life. I am loved by God and those dear to me for who I am and not for what I produce. I lead out of that place of well-being, trusting God to help me be blessed to be a blessing. I thank God for rest, for me a long-awaited reality that I welcome with open arms.
Resources for learning to rest will be posted on Thursday. God bless you, Denn