Rest Stop 52

"Then the king returned to his palace and spent the
night without eating and without any entertainment
being brought to him. And he could not sleep" - Daniel 6:18.

The king had been duped into sentencing Daniel to spend a night in the lion's den. Consequently, he could not sleep because of worry, knowing he had made a bad decision that risked the life of his loyal servant. When leaders don't do right, they lose their ability to rest, for then they have to worry about the results of their poor or misguided decisions. Contrast this to what David said in Psalm 3:3: "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me." Rest isn't dependent upon going to a nice vacation spot or spending time with family or friends. Real rest depends on integrity, honesty and righteousness. Without those characteristics, leaders may close their eyes and sleep but they will not be able to find true rest.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to keep track of your thoughts when you are supposed to be at rest. What are you thinking about? Are you playing out scenarios in your mind of what may happen because of what you have done, said or decided? When you should rest, is the Lord sustaining you or do you need sleep help, such as pills or alcohol? Do you have troubling dreams that disturb your rest? Is God empowering your rest times? If not, why not?

Rest Stop 51

"I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me" - Psalm 3:5.

The context of this verse is that the Lord sustained King David even when his enemies were threatening him on every side. Part of that care was David's ability to lie down and sleep even when danger threatened to rob him not only of his rest but also of life itself. Most leaders will not face that kind of pressure, so if David could find a way to trust in the midst of his hassles, then all leaders should be able to rest as well. Yet the enemies most leaders face - job security, good decisions, a healthy economy, ongoing donor generosity, office politics, the fickleness of boards of directors and staff - are every bit as real as David's wartime enemies. Therefore, the decision to rest is just that - a decision, based on trust that the Lord is protecting and watching out for leadership's well being.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to assess your worry level that may be costing you rest and sleep. Give yourself a 1 (never) to 5 (always) in response to these statements: 1) I have trouble sleeping; 2) I cannot stop thinking about situations at work even when I'm away; 3) I'm pessimistic; 4) I can't stop thinking about a mistake I recently made; and 5) I think about what can go wrong at work. If you scored from 18-25, then you need to seek help to find rest from worry.

Rest Stop 50

"All their days their work is grief and pain;
even at night their minds do not rest. This too
is meaningless" - Ecclesiastes 3:23.

The wisdom writer of Ecclesiastes was on a mission to figure out what was meaningful in life, and he did not find much. He focused on work and did not discover much hope there, concluding that all work was mostly meaningless and futile. Furthermore, the writer observed that it was meaningless to fret and fume over work that was likewise meaningless, destined to change and passed on to successors (along with wealth) who may or may not treat it with respect. He did come to one consistent conclusion: it was a gift of God to enjoy work and that meant in part to step away from work's frustrations and enjoy some rest and recreation.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to reflect on your relationship with your work roles in life. Are you expecting too much from them? Do you spend a lot of time fretting over the outcomes, which in the grander scale of things will pass away without much notice? Do you enjoy the work, or do you have to achieve a certain level of recognition or accomplishment to find any joy or sense of purpose? Is your mind free from work's pull when you are away and resting?

Rest Stop 49

"The fear of the Lord leads to life;
    then one rests content, untouched by trouble" - Proverbs 19:23.

The fear of the Lord causes the one who fears to avoid evil as defined by the commands in God's word. This avoidance of evil will bring peace of mind, which in turn will enhance a person's ability to rest both physically and mentally. Leaders must define for themselves how this fear of the Lord will be expressed in their leadership role. Since they are in the business of promoting, developing, and directing people, this fear should include a component that spells out how those leaders will treat the people with whom they work. When they violate their people philosophy, then they should expect their conscience to bother them and thus their rest will be affected, for that is how God created them to function.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to reflect on and spell out your standards and values where the people you work with are concerned. How will you treat them financially? When will you promote them and make room for their gifts? What will you do when they exhibit harmful attitudes and behaviors? This exercise will actually educate and activate your conscience, which will then be triggered negatively when you violate those standards and values.

Rest Stop 48

"How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep; A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man" - Proverbs 6:9-11.

Rest is not a right, but rather a necessity that follows performing the work that God has assigned. Rest is meant to refocus one's attention on God (and keep the work from becoming an idol) and to recharge for the work ahead. In other words, rest is to have meaning and focus and is not simply a time to do nothing. There are some who believe that doing nothing is a religious requirement and others who believe it is a God-given right. Instead, it is a time to acknowledge God's prerogative to rule schedules and work patterns, for on more than one occasion, Jesus declared Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath. Leaders should acknowledge that God has the right to determine when and how rest is to be taken and that includes the possibility that He requires some type work and worship on days that tired leaders would just as soon do nothing.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to make Jesus Lord of your rest, for He knows what is best for you and your health, creativity, and rejuvenation. That means on your 'sabbath,' He can direct you to 'work' in your church, have you visit a home for the elderly, or do family visits or other family-related activities. He can also direct you to invest your vacation time into missions or some other activity that will energize and refresh you, even though it does not involve physical rest.

Rest Stop 47

"Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you" - Psalm 116:7.

This is an interesting verse where rest is concerned. The psalmist was previously at rest but had lost it somehow. He began to employ self talk, convincing himself that it was better to return to his rest than stay in his turmoil or anxiety. The writer had to come up with some convincing reason to rest and he decided to reflect on and remember God's goodness toward him. The implication is that he should enjoy God's blessings and remember, if things were currently not good, that God will and can restore his fortunes as before. Therefore, he made the decision to rest (indicating that rest is a decision). Leaders should reflect on this verse and strive to use the past to give them comfort in the present and hope for the future whenever circumstances get tough and try to rob them of their joy and rest.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to use your self talk to help you find rest. Is your mind racing, causing you to worry or fret about the future, thus robbing you of the present? Then develop a strategy to combat your worry. If it were someone else fretting, what would you tell them? That's exactly what you should tell yourself - and keep on thinking it until you find peace. The best answer to worry seems is thinking about what God has done for you in the past.

Rest Stop 46

"I said, 'Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest'" - Psalm 55:6.

It sounds like the psalmist was saying, "I need a vacation or holiday!" While it is good to take weekly breaks, it is also important to take extended periods away from the pressures of work to replenish, refresh, and recharge. It is not only the actual vacation that can be energizing, but also the planning process itself is a fun-filled time when the planner visualizes the end result and enjoys the benefits of the time away even before he or she departs. Obviously, leaders are under extreme pressure, and planning time to "fly away and rest" is an important part of their rest strategy, even if their plan to "fly away'"includes staying at home and finishing up some home renovation or repair projects.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to plan your next few vacations away from work. Make one a stay-at-home break. Plan what you will do around the house or with the family while you stay close to home. Be detailed and plan out every day, visualizing the projects completed and the family time enjoyed. Or visualize your time alone and how you will utilize it and how that will make you feel. Then plan another one to a destination you have always wanted to visit. Where is that? Who will be with you? What will you do there? Notice how exciting it is just to plan those two events.

Rest Stop 45

"Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay" - Psalm 16:9-10.

God is in control, but often people try to take over and do His job and He allows them to do so. Usually the results are less than optimal but that doesn't stop people from trying to control things that are beyond their control. Thus people fret, worry and get angry over things like traffic delays, the weather, world economic collapse, other people's attitudes and behavior, and equipment breakdowns - all things that are beyond anyone's control. When people try to control the uncontrollable, their work and worry takes a heavy toll on them physically and emotionally, and they are often tired, even when they are not working. Leaders would do well to work hard, but then put God in charge of their responsibilities when they step away from work, allowing themselves to focus on family, hobby, church work or any other activity that gives them rest, relaxation and peace.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to learn how to step away from work and enjoy your life outside of work. To help you do this, here a prayer you must pray whenever you leave work for the day, weekend or holiday: "Lord, I put You in charge of this place and my work while I am gone. And I will be truly gone - emotionally and physically. I trust You and ask that You do the things that I cannot do - change hearts, generate business and watch over all my interests. Amen."

Rest Stop 44

"What I feared has come upon me;
    what I dreaded has happened to me.
I have no peace, no quietness;
    I have no rest, but only turmoil" - Job 3:25-26.

Job was a righteous man and a leader in his community, but he had one problem: he was a worrier. By his own admission, what he had thought about and feared came upon him when he lost everything that he held dear. His worry and consequent fulfillment of his worrisome fears robbed him of his peace, quietness and rest. Leaders make decisions that involve risk and impact many lives, so it is easy for them to worry about the outcomes of their decisions or all the unexpected events that may affect those decisions, requiring adjustments and more risk. If they are not careful, leaders forfeit their rest times away from their work because of worry and anxiety over the present and the future.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to read a poem written by Rudyard Kipling entitled If, which you will find here. After you have read it, go back and study what it has to say about worry, loss, risk, success, failure, and all the other consequence of a leader's life. Take Kipling's advice to heart and see where worry is robbing you of joy of work and the mental freshness needed to do your job effectively. What changes do you need to make to get some rest from worry?

Rest Stop 43

"Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
    or puts up security for debts;
if you lack the means to pay,
    your very bed will be snatched from under you" - Proverbs 22:26-27.

Today's passage refers to a practice called co-signing for someone else's debt. If the borrower can't pay, then the creditors come after the cosigner to collect the loan. There is more than one way, however, to cosign for someone else's commitments. That occurs when someone wants something for others more than the latter want it for themselves. When any kind of co-signing takes place, the cosigner can easily lose his or her rest worrying and fretting over the state of the other person's affairs. Leaders must be careful to set boundaries on their emotional involvement with family members and the people they mentor or lead, for their leadership energy can be drained when they cover for or agonize over irresponsible people.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine whether or not you have cosigned for someone else's responsibilities. Are you covering for someone on your team or in your family who refuses to be responsible? Are you more anxious or concerned for their situation than they are? Are you being unfair to other team or family members as you compensate for the irresponsible one? What is this costing you in emotional and creative energy? Make today the day you stop!