Life-Giving Rhythms: Experiencing a pattern of life that produces excellent work without being consumed by it ?(Chapter 24)
Over the last two weeks, we have looked at the sloth?and faithfulness. Sloth is described as the sixth deadly workplace sin by Ung and Stevens which they explain is working too little or alternatively too much. The alternative they propose is faithfulness – experiencing a pattern of life that produces excellent work without being consumed by it.
As someone who has regularly been consumed by work over the years, I faced this chapter with both anticipation and fear – anticipation of the insights that the authors would provide but fear that I would be challenged to change some deep and unhelpful routines and habits that I had developed over 40+ years in work settings. ?
I was not disappointed!
Building on the familiar story of Mary (an attitude of listening) and Martha (active serving), the observation is made that:
For most people, attaining work-life balance is an elusive pursuit. ?It even becomes idolatrous when we seek to balance the competing demands in our life without God at the center.
What is required is a life-giving rhythm which is both active and reflective governed by the Spirit’s gift of self-control based on the following suggestions:
- Live a principled life governed by a pattern or rhythm (daily, weekly, monthly) – this pattern should be implemented faithfully and flexibly and will provide a basis for decision-making about the many choices that face us.
- Listen regularly to God’s voice through reading of Scripture and prayer
- Reflect daily on what God is doing in our lives?– It was Socrates who said that, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.‘ ?As Christians, regular reflection should be an intentional and instinctive part of life using questions such as:
- For what moment today am I most grateful?
- For what moment today am I least grateful?
- Review your day slowly: What are your thankful for? What do you regret?
- What patterns do you see occurring over the last day, week, month, year?
- What do these patterns tell your about your relationship with God??
- Keep the Sabbath and recognize the need for rest?-?‘… refrain from work, celebrate the goodness of God and reflect on the meaning of life.’ ?Eugene Peterson is quoted: ‘If you cannot afford to take one day a week for rest, you are taking yourself too seriously.’
- Recognize the need to withdraw from the busyness and activity in order to pray and reflect – there are many ways and means to do this including withdrawing and fasting. ?I am always amazed how few Christians read and learn from others who can help them reflect on how the Gospel impact every aspect of life. ?Many of us undertook extensive reading programs to gain our professional qualification – why not as we seek to follow Jesus?
In our frenetic, unpredictable and often chaotic lives, these proposals are a real challenge aren’t they? ?And yet, if I am honest, I know that having reached the stage of semi-retirement, it is well within my capacity to restructure my life, to create rhythms that create space for life-enhancing reflection. ?
As I often would say to unruly students whose backgrounds and life circumstances made it difficult for them to conform to more helpful patterns of behavior in a school environment, ‘Those are explanations, not excuses.’
Next time: Life-giving rhythms ? experiencing a pattern of life that produces excellent work without being consumed by it. (Chapter 24)
Stevens, R. P., and Ung, A. (2010).?Taking Your Soul to Work: overcoming the nine deadly sins of the workplace.??Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eerdmans