How to Balance Working Hard with Resting Well
The Lord has been working on me lately in the area of work. And rest. And balancing between the extremes of striving/overwhelm and laziness/apathy.
Don't you love it when the Holy Spirit brings totally unrelated ministries to you in order to reiterate a specific word or lesson? I feel like it's a special message directly to me, saying, “Pay attention, Lila, because this is just for you!”
And since I know He knows what I will need that day before I even need it, I figure I'd better listen.
Today was one of those days, when I kept hearing the word “Freedom.”
I heard it twice when I played my old cassette tape (yes, I still have one that works!) of Avalon.
“Adonai” is a beautiful worship song I've loved since I first it in the 90s.
“Adonai, I lift up my heart and cry, my Adonai! You are the Maker of each moment, Father of my hope and freedom. Oh, my Adonai!”
“A Maze of Grace” is a fun song, the title track.
“...The 'straight and narrow' twists and turns... every time I turn around, there' so surprise. You see, my life's a maze of grace... I'm lost and then I'm found... The piece of the puzzle that I need is just to follow the sweet, familiar sound of your voice...”
There's freedom in not knowing where we're going. I know it's scary. But knowing God can see the maze of my life from the top-down view helps me listen for His still, small voice to guide me to the next step. It's another of those Christian paradoxes: Freedom is found in surrender.
2 Corinthians 2:14 was the next verse on my Thanksgiving Scripture Writing plan by Lil from Embracing the Lovely. There was no day or date plan to this one. I just happened to be on this one.
“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume” (NLT). It's not in every translation, but my NLT mentioned that “He has made us His captives.”
We are freed from sin to be a slave to righteousness; freed from Satan's grip to be a captive of the gentle Christ. Hallelujah!
I'm going through two Bible studies, and the word freedom just dove-tails beautifully with both. The formal one is through Proverbs31, and we are going through the book Breathe by Priscilla Shirer. It's almost how to rest, how to create margin in our lives, taking a Sabbath break.
I was listening to the Week 3 video today, and when Priscilla said this, it struck me: Enslaved people live with closed fists, hoarding, taking more manna than they're supposed to. That's all the Israelites had ever known was slavery in Egypt.
But free people give generously, living life with open hands, enjoying what they have and giving it away generously, gathering only what they need, only what they're supposed to, trusting God to give them a double portion on the sixth day so that they can rest on the seventh, refusing to overdo, knowing when to say, “I'm done for now.” #sabbathmargin
The second study is more informal, an online “book club” with emails from the author of Holy Hustle, Crystal Stine. We have been reading three chapters a week during November, and we're on the last chapters this week. I had just read chapter eight last night where she shared Andrea's definition of “holy hustle”:
“...just because it's 'work' doesn't mean I have to view it as a drudgery—I can change my perspective to see my work as a privilege I've been entrusted with. An honor. A high and holy calling.... For me, holy hustle is as simple as enjoying the work God has entrusted to me to do. It's still work,it still requires effort, time, persistence, grit, and discipline...” (p.153).
That sounds an awful lot like freedom to me. Freedom from busyness for the sake of staying busy, freedom from striving for the sake of getting ahead, and freedom from laziness and giving up.
This is my review of Holy Hustle by Crystal Stine. I pray that you will begin to understand the balance God has modeled for us, commanded us, and helps us to reach.
1. What I Loved about Holy Hustle
There are so many!
The illustration of Ruth fit exactly with my Women's retreat. I read the chapters for the book club the same week I went up into the mountains to take a “retreat” away from everyday life. Our curriculum for the retreat was also about Ruth. We read the entire book that weekend. And I read in Holy Hustle when Ruth got up and went out into the field to glean the wheat left specifically for the poor. “Ruth also hustled... She worked hard, harder than most of the others there. Ruth stopped for breaks when she needed them, but kept going even when it was challenging” (p.21).
I love the emphasis on motives. “Hustle [the world's view] tells us we should push ourselves ahead to get more. Holy hustle tells us to work hard in the name of Jesus to make His name great, not ours” (p.25). Motives do matter. The end doesn't justify the means, but neither do the right actions matter without the right motives. (Matthew 7:22, NLT: “Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven...”)
Most of what she said about building an online empire convicted me as I've been trying to grow my online business this year. “What if we used the places and platforms God gifts us as places to elevate Him, His Word, and His good news? What if we got to work only after asking God to hide us completely, inviting Him to take center stage?... What if we took the 'I' out of platform?” (p.176).
The Holy Spirit helped me understand this principle by giving me a mental picture. Not only are the platforms, influences, and places He's put us supposed to be platforms for God to shine, but I myself am one of the Lord's platforms! My life and my words and my actions are all tools He uses to bring glory to Himself, to point others to the Light of the World! (John 8:12). Pages 162-164 talk more about light and mention several verses about light, one of which reminded me of this post, a collection of songs, this one about miracles, Exodus 13:21.
“...[I]nviting Him to take center stage” reminds me of the TobyMac song, “Steal my Show.” I talked about this song in another collection of songs, here in this post, song #5.
“When I forget the purpose behind my work... I start selling [instead of serving], and in the process I value profits over people” (p.141).
I loved the Reflection questions each chapter to start applying it to my life, and I especially loved the lines for the journaling at the end of each chapter. Of course, I'm a sucker for journaling. ;)
I loved the emphasis on community (chapter 8). No one of us can do it all. We're called the Body of Christ for a reason; we all need everyone else's gifts. They need mine. And we need yours.
Though mostly sober, there are a few funny moments. One is a play on words (I think it was intentional): “We've all experienced the spreading of bad salt as jealousy, envy, or anger has been our lifestyle of choice. Nothing good comes from those seasons” (p.166, emphasis mine).
2. What I Didn't Love about Holy Hustle
There are only a few minor things.
There were just a couple of phrases and ideas that confused me. I wasn't quite sure what she meant.
I noticed a few statements that seemed Calvinistic, or indicative of a settled view of theology, which I don't agree with. The idea of working hard really can't logically exist in a fatalistic worldview. But I'll give the benefit of the doubt: she never really came out and stated that's what she believes.
I'm not sure I agree with this statement on p.56: “You aren't enough to do the holy hustle work God has set before you, but your small obedience is enough.” My weakness shows His strength, but He will never test us beyond what we're able. If my obedience is enough, than my effort is enough. My effort can't be enough if I'm not enough. It just isn't logical.
The verse on p.42, Matthew 18:20, is taken out of context. Of course, most people take it out of context, so it's a common mistake.
“He doesn't want you to execute your job perfectly...” No, we can't do anything perfectly, but He does want us to do our best. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23, NIV).
3. Favorite Quotes
That would be a quarter of the book! Here are a few of my favorites (okay, more than a few—it’s so hard for me to choose favorites!):
“The world shouts at us to hustle harder than ever and not worry about who we crush along the way. The church yells at us to stop hustling altogether and to embrace rest, soul-care, and grace” (p.18).
“Together, the six letters in the word hustle seem so divisive, and we feel it, don't we?... hustle is simply a word that exemplifies hard work and effort, but I bet many of us would define it differently...'ceaselessly striving'....” (p.18).
“But first we need to redeem the word hustle and recognize how God has uniquely created us to use those talents for His glory” (p.19).
“And yet, as God so often does with His living and active Word, a fresh perspective appeared, speaking to my doubts about work and worth and my questions about success and striving” (p.21).
“We can't live 100 percent of our lives modeled after the first six days of creation and ignore day seven. Hustling doesn't have to mean getting ahead, walking all over our coworkers, or shining a spotlight on our ourselves” (p.22).
“Let's invest in learning, not assuming, so we can be encouraging, not envious” (p.22).
“It's impossible to be at once both greedy and thankful” (p.25).
“I knew God called work good, but had I ever noticed that He called rest 'holy'? Good and holy. Work and rest” (p.82, emphasis mine). (See Genesis 2:2-3.)
“God worked and created for six days. He did the work until it was done, and then He rested. How often do I some of the work and call it 'enough'? How often do I do more than what is asked or expected of me and find myself weary and burned out?” (p.82).
“When all the work has been completed to God's satisfaction, and He has called it good, He doesn't start a new project or begin redesigning what He's already finished. He rests.... Rest doesn't just happen when we crawl exhausted into our beds at night. This kind of rest, a sabbath from the work God has called us to, is a restorative time for our hearts to honor God” (p.83).
“Living in the sweet spot of holy hustle allows us to bring glory to God through our work and our rest” (p.83).
“...serving others is a superpower God gives us to build, strengthen, and use for His glory” (p.107).
“And when I start looking for more, neglecting the ministry right in front of me, or becoming idle in serving my loved ones, that's my red flag that I have, again, started striving” (p.112).
“Holy hustle means allowing your community to help, and that sometimes hustle looks less like full-speed success and more like slow persistence in the face of failure” (p.146).
“Balance requires keeping our eyes on one steady, unmoving spot.... Only by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and our minds content with the right-here work we've been called to can we most effectively complete our own race and help others along the way” (p.146).
Quoting Elisabeth Elliot: “'Work is a blessing. God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it. The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure. It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest'....” (p.173).
“Just as striving is the 'gone too far' side of serving, laziness is the 'gone too far' side of rest” (p.178)
“We need rest. But our rest has a purpose. It's not meant to be an excuse to avoid work. Sabbath is a day set aside, a time to walk with the Lord in prayer. It's when we can thank Him for the work we've been given and seek His will for what's to come” (p.178-9).
Just as “our work can be a blessing to those we serve,... our rest is a blessing—a gift—as well. When we are well rested, we can make better decisions, serve in our full strength, and better handle all that comes our way” (p.179). Self-care is a gift to those we're caring for, too. It's the old oxygen mask analogy—you have to put your own on first to help save someone else.
“We are called to take the gospel to the far ends of the earth and to be a light on a hilltop, and we can do that right where God has called us. What if we saw our work as our mission field?” (p.179).
“...this verse [Psalm 46:10] is so beautifully written that it makes sense even when we break it down, piece by piece.
Be still and know.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know that I am God.
We can be still and rest well because God is the I Am, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega” (p.183).
The Lord has been dealing with me about resting in Him and working hard for Him. It’s really easy to slip into striving and workaholism for my own agenda, or to slip into laziness or apathy when the work gets hard or feels meaningless. I recommend this book to any Christian woman who struggles to find time to rest or struggles to find motivation to serve others, and especially for those of who swing from extreme to extreme. Go get this book now!! :)
Which do you have the most trouble with: resting well or working hard?