The Importance of Rest

Leadership is about doing and action. Since leaders are driven to accomplish and achieve the temptation can be to resist rest. However, rest is an important key to effectiveness and productivity. If you implement regular rest into your life you will see positive results now and into the future. You will have the stamina to move through the different seasons of leadership and have a greater chance of leave a lasting legacy. Senator Joe Lieberman insightful said,

“In our time of time-starved culture, we race through our hectic days, desperately wishing for more time with family, friends, and ourselves, as the hands on the clock whir around the hours at ever-increasing speed. But the truth is, our bodies and souls were created to rest- regularly – and when they do, we experience heightened productivity, improved health, and more meaningful relationships.”

The benefits of rest only come when we intentionally take time to rest. Below are three suggestions to help implement rest into your life:

1. Make rest a priority- In Jason Vana’s post Time to Yourself he says, “we are only able to pour into others what we first received ourselves.” Rest allows us to better influence the people we lead. This happens when we value and make rest a priority. When a leader does too much without a sufficient amount of rest they are in danger of becoming frustrated with a lack of productivity and have the potential to burnout.

2. Engage in nourishment activities- Nourishment means “The substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.” When you find and apply nourishment centers into your life they will refresh and recharge you. Below are a few nourishment centers I recommend engaging in on a regular basis:

  • Family- Spending quality time with your family will greatly recharge you. It’s also a significant factor when it comes to being successful in leadership. I believe a Strong Marriage Equals Strong Leader.
  • Recreation- It’s important to find and engage in recreations that you enjoy and like to do. Edwards Bellamy said, “If bread is the first necessity of life, recreation is a close second.” The activity might require energy and effort but it will bring nourishment to your life.
  • Relationships- The friendships we have and develop can greatly bring value and refreshment into our life. Spending time with a close friend can bring rest and refresh our soul.
  • Spiritual life- When you nourish your spiritual life then your outward life will thrive. Isaiah 40:31 has a great promise, “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Spending time with God and reading the Bible can bring rest into our life.

3. Lead a balanced life- I believe a key to longevity in leadership is to have a balance between your personal and professional life, both physically and mentally. A leader taking time off but thinking about work or a task that needs to be accomplished will not be able to fully rest. Whether at work or at home train yourself to be fully engaged and concentrated on your current activity. Taking time to rest requires being deliberate about disconnecting from your professional life so you can fully be renew.

Questions: What are some other ways we can implement rest into our life? What do you enjoy doing that brings you rest and refreshment?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Rest is surely very important. I have been very intentional as of late to get good rest by going to sleep early and waking up at 5:30AM. It allows me to be more productive, spend time in prayer and reading of the Word. I just enjoy spending time with the family, whether it’s watching a movie with my wife and daughters. Or just sitting around and talking and playing some games. Sometimes I’ll take my daughters to the mall and hang-out for a bit, since they loving going to the Apple store. And for me personally, I like to rest from my work or other responsibilities, just by reading a good book. Sometimes I take naps on Sunday’s after church and I tell my family, I am going to go meditate. They know what that means.

    • Juan, I love naps on Sunday afternoons too! I recently started waking at 5:30am every morning to write for and hour before my day gets started. I found that this activity actually energizes me for the rest of the day. It also encourages me to get to bed on time because I so look forward to that quiet hour of writing in the morning!

      • I have been thinking about starting to wake up early to write in stead of writing at night. The problem I have is already get up early (6 am) to be at work by 7am. Maybe I should try for 5am so I would have time to pray, read my bible, and write first thing. I guess that would mean I would need to go to bed earlier:)

        • You could try it for a while and see if it works. I’ve got five younger kids at home so early morning is the one time I know I can pretty much have peace and quite. In the evenings I try to get in bed shortly after my kids get in bed. Then I read until I can’t stay awake. I usually need about 6-7 hours of good sleep.

          • I plan on seeing if it works out better, this am was my first time testing it out. I woke up at 4:50am. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Those are great ways to rest and recharge yourself Juan. I need to get better at going to bed earlier so I have more time to sleep. Sunday naps are the best ones, they are always holy. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • I get rest through reading, writing and playing music. which works out nice as they are my three main hobbies. I think one way leaders can get rest is to also be followers, not only of other leaders, but of their subordinates, too.

    • Those are great ways to rest Dan. Engaging in hobbies always seem like they energize and refresh me. I really like to read as well. Good point about leaders being followers, I totally agree with you. Thank you for sharing.

      • I’m reading a book called Neighbors and Wise Men by Tony Kriz and he notes that one issue with traditional church hierarchy is that we are put into roles of leaders and followers and that can create separation rather than unity.

        • Interesting. I’ll have to read that book.

  • Thanks again for featuring my post, Dan! I implement rest in my life by blocking out at least one night a week where I don’t plan anything. It’s open for me to spend time with friends, lay on the couch, read, write…really do whatever I want. I also find just getting out in nature, where hiking or biking or just being outside, rejuvenates me.

    • Your welcome. I was glad to mention you. Blocking out time to rest is so important. I usually do the same thing with my wife. Thanks for commenting.

  • Dan, I like the idea of “nourishment activities”. I find that sometimes we are so tired that we lose our desire to participate in those types of activities. However, in my personal experience I’ve never regretted doing those activities after the fact.

    • I relate with you, It’s amazing how much we need to participate in activities that nourish us, though we might want to resist they always give us rest or a charge. Thanks for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • This is a good reminder, Dan: “A leader taking time off but thinking about work or a task that needs to be accomplished will not be able to fully rest.” I often think about writing when I’m not writing. I don’t think that’s so bad all the time, but I need to be intentional about it so I get true breaks. My favorite ways to rest are to camp and backpack. Lots of down time, no decisions, beautiful scenery, and good relationships.

    • I’m the same way. A lot of my brainstorming and thinking about future poss topics are done before I actually start writing. I have found it easier to write when I have been thinking about what to write about. I make it a point to disconnect from writing/social media to spend time with my family. Sounds like a great way to relax and have fun! Thank you for sharing.

  • Personally, I think the point you make at the end is the best one. You have to learn to disconnect from work entirely. If you are doing what you love, it is easy to have it constantly on your mind. Everywhere you go you are looking for ideas or running a concept through your brain. Your body and your family deserve your full attention from time to time.

    Thanks for the reminders, Dan!

    • I agree, It can be a challenge to rest from doing things we “love” and are passionate about. I have to force myself to rest from writing and building my platform. I spend time with my family every night and a significant amount of time while I’m not working at my day job. I found it refreshes and renews me. Thanks for adding to the conversation. I appreciate it.

  • Balance is so important and yet most leaders substantially lack in this department. It’s like everything else; you have to practice it to be any good at it. I find that exercising is a great way to balance and refresh the mind and body. Good tips and reminders, Dan. Thanks.

    • I also have found a lot of achievers and leaders overlook resting which can cause short and long term problems. I second you, I enjoy exercising. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for sharing.

  • The commandment was to work six days and rest one. How often we get that balance totally out of whack in one way or another. I’ve heard of plenty of people who worked until they burned out – and then they said they were forced to catch up on their rest from a hospital bed.

    • Amen! People of faith need to remember that commandment. The negative results from not resting can be high. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • I found out the hard way several years ago about the importance of rest. I was officiating a basketball game and in the middle of the 3rd quarter I felt dizzy. To keep from passing out running down the court, I called time and laid on the floor. They took me the hospital by ambulance. At the hospital they ran several tests and they all came back negative. The doctor came in said everything looked good and he asked me questions about my activity. I told him all the things I was doing. He said you are stressed out and exhausted. He recommended I take several days off and get some rest. From that experience I realized the value of rest. Another great post Dan.

    • Thank you for sharing this personal story. I’m glad to hear you where ok and nothing major was wrong. I’m sure you implement rest and relaxation into your life now:) We all need it.

  • Have you read The Power of Full Engagement? We were made for cycles of work and rest, and we can’t cheat the system. For me it is all about setting and keeping boundaries. I will leave work by 5:30 to have dinner with my family. I will take some downtime on the weekends, etc…. Not sure keeping up with my 4 year old counts as “rest”!

    • I have not, is it worth reading? Having boundaries is so important. Ya, I hear you about keeping up with a child. They keep us busy:) Thank you for sharing.

      • It is a great and fairly quick read. I picked up a few things from it…so would recommend you add to your pile!

        • DS

          I love the assumption of a pile to read…the embracing of reading – a concept lost on many.

          • My pile mocks me on a regular basis – but I keep adding to it!

  • I like to spend time outdoors or with nature. It can be as simple as sitting on the front porch and just listening, but taking in the sun and fresh air is invigorating.

    • That’s a great way to rest and relax. Thank you for stopping by to read and share.

    • DS

      It doesn’t get much better than watching the awesome power of the outdoors and our smallness within it. Great pictures and memories passed through my mind with your comment – thanks for that!

      • I know what you mean. When you said memories I smelled the fresh sea breeze for a moment. Man, I need a vacation ;-).

  • DS

    I struggle in this area a ton. I’ve got a lot I want to work on, a long commute, a young family, and I tend to burn at both ends of the candle. I acknowledge that the sustainability is not long. I’m trying to be more disciplined in the evening with bed times, as well as in my being more careful with information consumption (slowing down and being more intentional). These combined will help me rest physically and mentally. Thanks for the challenge!

    • I hear you. It’s an area I’m working on as well. Praying your able to rest and refresh more:) Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • I think productivity is a major key. The more we can focus and get things done, the more we will be able to step away from work or whatever it is and focus on the other things in life. I have found that when I have a really productive day, the time with my family is much more relaxed. It’s when I am scattered that I have a hard time slowing down and giving them adequate attention.

    • I totally agree Jared. Relaxing is a lot easier when we have done something or achieved our day end tasks/goals. I think it’s still important even though we might have had a hard or scattered day to take time to relax so we can maximize the next day. It’s hard though. Thanks for reading and sharing.