Permission to Rest

By Ps Ng Zhiwen

Hi, I’m Zhiwen, and I’m a workaholic.

I’m writing this at the tail-end of a holiday trip, but I still remember what it was like coming into the trip. 

There were loads of meetings, deadlines to meet, and the endless stream of emails to respond to. I’d not told many people that I was on holiday, and so the WhatsApp and Telegram messages kept streaming in. All of these were important, and I can’t bear to leave messages unread!

All this while, I fancy that I work less hard than the rest of my colleagues in the church staff. I really do. People tell me that I do a lot, but I’ve always found that hard to believe, relatively speaking. Signs of a workaholic?

But I was looking really forward to the holiday. The weeks leading up to June were packed, and I’d not been getting as much sleep as I ought. And I was missing time with my family.

And yet it was hard to stop thinking about work even when on holiday. The work continues, doesn’t it? That’s the nature of ministry work. Furthermore, I can start reading up to prepare for the next sermon series. I can even write sermons in advance! Plus, there are other people looking to you to make decisions or to give input so that things can move along. I can’t just stop and ‘sabotage’ the others, can I?

Should I just utilize my holiday time to multi-task and ‘catch up on work’? Surely, when the children are in bed, I can put in some hours of work.

And surely, my worth was tied to my volume of work. And if that be the case, surely rest is merely a temporary respite so that I can get down to doing even more work?

I mean, what will people think of me? Will my absence be frowned on? Am I doing less than what a pastor should. Should I be enjoying my walks and hikes, while abandoning the sheep?! 

Hi, I’m Zhiwen, and I’m a workaholic.

And I needed to give myself permission to rest.

I remember once over-hearing a man talking on the phone – he was discussing work matters, and he said this to the other person, “You realize that you are disturbing my vacation?” And I thought to myself that these were not the words of a Singaporean!

I am very thankful that my colleagues have given me leave to rest. If there was anyone pressuring me to work, it was myself.

Instead of being anxious about work and about trying to do more and more, I think I will be richly blessed instead by following what God had graciously set from the beginning:

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, 
and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.”
 Genesis 2:2

We may permit ourselves to joyfully enter this rhythm of life.

And if you’d been wondering: Yes, it has been a restful holiday. Thank you all. And thank you Jesus!

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