Recharging our batteries | Rest

As non-profit staff members, we work in situations where our jobs often directly affect people in powerful ways.  We are in charge of children, adults with special needs, struggling moms and parents, confused teens, and a whole host of other people who are counting on us to be present and work hard.  And because of this reality, we often (or usually) feel the pressure to keep working.

We work longer hours than we should.
We skip vacations.
We say yes to meetings, events, weekend trips, speaking events, and more.
We don’t know how to turn off the “switch” for work.
We don’t even know where the line between work and normal life is most of the time.

All because we believe, truly and completely, that our work is important and vital to people who need us.  And this is true.  This is absolutely true.  Our jobs are incredibly important, and we need to work hard and long to ensure that we do it well.  We need to be the best at our jobs we possibly can be, and sometimes that will mean making sacrifices and putting in long hours.  Our jobs just don’t look like other peoples’ do, and that’s okay.  That is our reality as people who work in non-profits.

But we are doing ourselves and our non-profits a disservice if we do not stop to rest.  It is in the process of stepping back to rest and relax that several important realities occur:

  1. Rest increases our compassion.  Scientifically, the part of the brain that is “stretched” when we are still and aware of ourselves is the same part of the brain that controls our ability to show compassion.  Taking time to pay attention to how our bodies are feeling and finding moments to be still and silent grows this “compassion muscle”.  So taking time to rest, relax, and pay attention to our bodies and our own needs is an important part of becoming more compassionate and empathetic people.
  2. When we rest, others must step up.  We understand the basics of delegation, but this can be incredibly difficult to actually do.  We know exactly how to do what is needed, and we are usually the ones who can do it best.  But if we are always the ones doing the work, no one else ever learns and grows into new and important roles.  When we step away and turn off our “work” mode, others are forced to take on roles we would have done.  Others are given the chance to be leaders and increase their capabilities.  And though there may be times that activities or events just don’t go as well, this is an important part of training up effective leaders.  We need to step aside so others can come into their own.
  3. Stepping away to rest gives us better perspective.  When we work too hard, rushing from one necessity to the other, we can easily lose sight of the bigger picture.  We begin to focus so closely on those items that most need our attention, that we can begin to operate in a vacuum.  Taking time to rest and rejuvenate gives us a wider lens from which to see our work.  When we step back and away from the day-to-day, we have a better view of the bigger picture and the larger vision for what we are doing.  This larger vision will make us more effective when our times of rest come to an end and we return to the daily routine.

Looking for more on living a balanced work life?

The Winter Blues
Ministry…or Business
Productivity: Hours

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