“I would warn you against the sin of overwork. Many of you seem to think it is right to misuse the strength God gives you. The result of such misuse is that you break down and cause great hindrance to God’s work, wasting the talent He has entrusted to you. Overwork among conscientious souls is a far more real and frequent sin than laziness, and we ought to be more ready to suspect it and guard against it than we are. You need eight hours in bed and one day a week free from work if you are to give God your best service. Are you securing this amount of rest? If you are not, there ought to be a very serious questioning of your conscience in the matter.” (Morgan, Edmund R. Reginald Somerset Ward: His Life and Letters. London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd, 1963, p. 81-82.)
I agree with Ward here, and think that his counsel is especially fitting for Orange county Christians and a lot of ministry leaders I’ve met. We’re more tempted by overwork than by laziness. Overwork is doing more than what Jesus is giving me. Overwork is adding to the easy yoke Jesus invites me to bear. It is actually a variety of pride. And usually overwork is not especially fruitful work. In my case, it tends to be busy work.
I must take Ward’s counsel as it relates to eight hours of sleep and one day a week free of work. I’ve figured out that I function at my best with seven-and-a-half hours of sleep. And even though I frequently give a presentation on Sabbath and have a chapter on the theme in An Unhurried Life, I have not always been good at the practice. Either I believe this is for me or I do not. If I do not, I haven’t much business proclaiming the virtues of a practice I have not incorporated myself. Thank you, Jesus, for ways you are mentoring me and stretching me into healthier ways to live and work. (I wrote a bit more about overwork in the post: “Overwork Hardens the Heart.”
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