At the end of 2017, many of us felt exhausted. Grateful for God’s care and faithfulness throughout the year, but perhaps running on fumes by year’s end. Was that you?
This week is a great time to step back and assess what kind of margin we have in our lives to allow God to guide, lead, correct, heal, and shepherd our souls.
After years of treating people in his office who became sick from living without margin, Dr. Richard Swenson issues a clarion call to slow down:
We must have some room to breathe. We need freedom to think and permission to heal. Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has the time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions. Is God now pro-exhaustion? Doesn’t He lead people beside the still waters anymore? Who plundered those wide-open spaces of the past, and how can we get them back? There are no fallow lands for our emotions to lie down and rest in.
But we need more than just slowing down or a vacation. Much of our exhaustion comes from a misunderstanding of the purpose of work. If it’s just a means to an end, then it’s easy to become drained by work.
Sure, work can be tiring, but when you know that God is intimately involved in your work to bring flourishing to his creation, then it should change your approach to work.
- You can wake up knowing that no matter how seemingly insignificant your work seems in the world’s eyes, it is eternally significant.
- You can pray about every detail because God cares about it and it ultimately isn’t about your identity, it’s about bringing glory to God.
- You don’t have to drive yourself to exhaustion. God is in charge.
- You can release failures and disappointments to God because his plan is bigger and grander than our imagination.
Because we know many of our readers are busy people who probably need more margin in their lives, IFWE has created a number of shorter reading options to help connect you to this greater purpose of work, and we pray, create more margin and less burnout.
The Bible App (YouVersion)
How about a short 5-7 day reading plan on your phone to kick-off your year? Check out the IFWE Bible reading plans on the Bible app (YouVersion): What Is My Mission?, The Biblical Meaning of Success, How Do I Find My Calling?, Is Your Gospel Big Enough?, Finding Fulfillment in Work, and Wholehearted: Living Life by the Greatest Commandment. To date, more than 300,000 people have completed these reading plans! Perhaps you’re one of those people who first found out about IFWE through the Bible app. If so, we’re glad you’re here!
If you need a recommendation, I would start with the reading plan, What Is My Mission?, a series that addresses the gut-wrenching, life-questions we’ve all struggled with: “Isn’t there more to life?” and “What am I here to do?”
In this seven-day reading plan, your mission at work—and all of life—becomes clear as you discover your role in God’s incredible story. In particular, it takes a closer look at God’s command to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1, the cultural mandate, and how to apply it to your life. Each day there is a scripture reading, a brief devotional, and links to additional reading if you want to go deeper.
I would especially encourage you to check out this plan if you are new to IFWE. It is a quick way to get up to speed on what we consider “faith and work 101.” It’s the foundation for some of the other topics we tackle here on the blog that involve the integration of faith, work, and economics (e.g., income inequality, poverty alleviation, economic freedom, or the best path to biblical flourishing).
We have also created a series of booklets that contain the nuts and bolts of faith, work, and economics. These are similar to many of the topics addressed in the Bible app reading plans but will provide a little more depth. Each is available in both a digital and paperback format and can be found in the IFWE bookstore.
IFWE Learning Collections
One more way to do a shorter tour of our content is to explore the Learning Collections on the IFWE website. These are groupings of blogs, videos, webcasts, and other resources that we’ve assembled to take you through various topics such as calling, stewardship, poverty, and wealth. All the resources are free and accessible online.
Hopefully, this gives you a start. Again, we understand that you are busy and that’s why our aim is to come alongside you with resources to help reorient your perspective on work. We want to revive you this year as you understand the “why” behind your work.
As you see God’s purpose for your work, may it lead to a new sense of margin in your life that comes from letting go of striving that leaves you empty and exhausted. And instead, may it lead to a year of work that is full of hope, creativity, and love for others.