4 Benefits of Prioritizing Rest and Maximizing PTO
Burnt-out. Tired. Exhausted. Running on empty. Two years post-grad and I have already experienced these things in my career and have seen so many coworkers and friends feeling the weight of the same things.
In this modern world of rushing and doing more and improving and connecting and working faster and harder and smarter, it makes sense that we struggle to maintain the model of rest set out for us from the very beginning.
Genesis 2:1-3 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
He rested from all he had done. The all-perfect Creator of the very world we rush around in put in place a model of rest to show us how we should live. He did not need rest but knew we would. Being a loving Father, he not only modeled rest but commanded it. He prioritized for us what we probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
This is a very good thing and yet we read over this passage and shrug our shoulders only to move on to the next thing on our to-do list. We look up to see people rushing around us and quickly jump back into the same old rhythms. Faster. Better. Smarter. More. More. More. Don’t get me wrong, productivity is good. Striving to steward our resources well through efficiency is a worthwhile goal. I am an achiever at heart. But the God of the Universe commanded rest from our work. If we believe he is worth following to the fullest, why don’t we take this command seriously, especially in the church?
We too easily believe the lie that if we slow down, our value plummets. If we take a day off then obviously everyone around us will assume that we don’t have what it takes to move the needle forward. Miss that email? Might as well start packing your desk. Putting off rest also fosters a mindset that we are the most important and that Kingdom work cannot continue without us. This is not a good place to be, whether you work on a church staff, for a corporation, or even if you work from home.
Over the past few months, we at Vanderbloemen have revamped the way we handle time off. Let me tell you, it has changed the game and I believe it has made us better and even more productive. It is no longer a suggestion to refrain from checking your email or a guideline to leave your computer at home when taking multiple days off. At Vanderbloemen, we are working to foster a culture of being completely unplugged when we take time off. This means that the week(s) leading up to extended time off require extra preparation to ensure all of our work is covered.
Recently I had to take 3 days off at a moments notice due to a death in my family. I scrambled to get all of my work passed off to my team and they graciously agreed to stand in the gap for me. The extra preparation before heading home allowed me to be 100% invested in my family and freed me up to celebrate my grandfather’s life to the full. I came back to a few more emails but my team had been covering the rest.
“Reentry” was a whole lot easier and I had a small amount of things to catch up on. I was truly able to press pause on the rushing and savor rest, even at a funeral.
It isn’t the norm in our culture to see rest as good or necessary or something to prioritize, but here are 4 ways I have seen our goal of being “100% Off” actually promote more efficiency, health, productivity and Godly rest on our team:
1. Rest Fosters “Team-Minded” Morale
I came back from a few days away unplugged with my family to a handful of emails and a few extra things to do for the next week. I wasn’t swamped, I didn’t drown in to-do lists and I was easily back on track in a matter of two days. I cannot explain the weight that is lifted when your team helps to shoulder your responsibilities. It left me incredibly motivated to serve my team on their time off because I remembered how my rest was maximized when they took the time to serve me. An added bonus? My caseload of searches kept moving forward. It’s like we didn’t miss a beat. I also was reminded that I work with incredible people who are really good at what they do. Resting well gave me the opportunity to show value to my team and thank them for their Unusual Servanthood - one of our key values at Vanderbloemen.
2. Taking Time Off Gets the Focus Off of “Me”
The churches I get to serve didn’t suffer due to my absence. Believe it or not, the world kept spinning without me. I saw that my teammates were capable of handling my work in a way that was excellent. Taking time to slow down, whether it be several days of PTO or even unplugging over the weekend, will often serve to remind you that you are not as important and necessary as you think you might be. You might do incredible work (and I hope that you do!) but the people around you can do incredible work too. Maybe part of the reason we want to avoid rest is because it puffs up the illusion that we are in control, that we are “lord” of our lives, that we are the best. As believers, this is not a good place for us. We have to keep from drifting into that mindset. Being 100% off will help you keep this in check and will help you rightly view and worship the Lord.
3. Choosing to Completely Unplug Frees You Up to Fully Invest in Those Around You
No team ever feels valued or encouraged when someone shows up to work clearly wanting to be elsewhere or is consumed with distraction. Life happens. You and I will have these days and we need to show grace to each other but it still isn’t an ideal environment. I think the same is true when we take time off to see our family and friends and they sit across the table watching us check our work emails. “Let me just respond to this quick text or make that quick phone call,” we explain, and while they probably understand, it still doesn’t show them extreme value and we aren’t really resting. Taking time off can easily become doing the same work in a different location if we aren’t careful. Making the choice to unplug forces you to invest fully in those around you, just like you invest fully in your work most days of the year.
4 . Resting Leaves You Recharged and Ready to Come Back and Get to It.
Remember those seasons of burnout? Prioritizing your rest and shouldering the responsibilities of others to promote their rest can actually help us avoid burnout. If you make the choice to rest well, you will likely come back to work energized and ready to hit the ground running. Your team will thank you for coming back refreshed! If you are constantly working on your time off, you will likely dread walking back into the office. You will also come back wishing you could spend time with your people, even though you just had a chance to see them! Choose to draw the lines you can to keep work and rest two separate things. Your rest is a worthwhile investment and crucial to your success in your work.
These things are much easier said than done. We are pro-rest until we realize it requires closing the computer, turning off notifications and surrendering our work to the Lord, trusting that he stays on His throne even when we take a break. I will be the first to admit that I have spent time on vacation wondering what I am missing and fearing that I will face consequences for taking time off. It takes up so much brain space and nine times out of ten, there is nothing I can do about it. There will be situations where we need to take that call or check our email, so legalism isn’t the goal here. However, He commands us to rest and tells us rest promotes our good so let’s work to make rest the norm. Rest makes us healthier, more effective, more efficient and it makes us more surrendered in our work to the One who ultimately holds all things together.
I could not be more grateful that we are resting better at Vanderbloemen. I believe that the Lord is really honored when we submit to His original design for rest and pray that you start to move that way in your team as well.