Resting Well

By Ray Hendriks  |  April 6th

Some of you may have met Franklin, albeit virtually. Franklin is a 12-week-old golden retriever puppy. He has made appearances on a number of Zoom calls as he clamours for my attention. Typical of any puppy, but even more so a golden retriever, he is very active for periods of time and then seeks a warm sunny spot or a comfortable soft blanket or pillow for a refreshing nap that seems to revive him. At 12 weeks old, Franklin has figured out something that takes many of us many years to get: rest after prolonged activity is good for us!

The four days of Easter weekend are now behind us. I hope it was a time of restoration and celebration, reflection, and resurrection. This most important Christian holiday fills us with hope through Christ’s saving sacrificial act on the cross and His victory over the grave. I pray that this Easter weekend gave you a renewed sense of hope in our Lord’s unfailing mercy and faithfulness.

Back at it again, our thoughts turn toward yet another break on the near horizon. In just a few days, we anticipate one week, yes, one whole week, of spring break. For most of us, a true time of rest has been an unfulfilled promised during this past year. Just when we thought we were going to have a nice break, another decision affecting the way we do education would affect us, as a new COVID-19 related crisis would arise. For many of us, we are realizing a tiredness that we have never experienced before.

In his book The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan recognized this in himself: “But it became clear that if I continued in the way I was heading, I was going to do lasting damage. And it became obvious that the pace and scale of my striving were paying diminishing returns. My drivenness was doing no one any favors. I couldn’t keep it up and had no good excuse to try. I learned to keep Sabbath in the midst of the crucible of breaking it.” He goes on to explain that “Sabbath is both a day and an attitude … that Sabbath imparts the rest of God—actual physical, mental, spiritual rest but also the rest of God—the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.”

So why remind me of just how tired I really am, you ask? Because I want you to consider setting a few intentions as you approach this well-deserved and welcome Spring break. Plan a few deliberate actions, in order to fully embrace the attitude of Sabbath:

  1. Set yourself up to take a complete break from your school leadership stresses. This may take some planning. Let your Board and leadership team know that for a designated number of days you will not be responding to school related matters; that during that time you will not be checking emails or receiving or responding school related texts. Ask that you only be contacted for the most dire emergency. Some suggestions that may help you do this include:
    1. Set up an emergency contact schedule between a few individuals—perhaps your leadership team or in smaller school situations, you may include a few dependable Board members to fill in the gaps.
    2. Encourage your entire staff team to do the same. Give them permission to turn off/ignore school related messaging and devices for the duration of the break. Remind them that any issues that arise can be dealt with upon the return from the break.
    3. Inform your community that school staff are taking a well-deserved break and will be pleased to answer questions and address concerns upon the return from the break.
  1. Plan activities (or have your family weigh in with some ideas) that will help take your thoughts away from the school and into other adventures.
    1. Get in some great physical activity.
    2. Enjoy at least one (hopefully more) leisurely meal with a favourite person … and I mean actually dwell over the meal: tell good stories, reminisce about great times in the past, dream about a post-COVID vacation to a favourite spot.
    3. Get in some great physical activity.
    4. Complete at least one home-related spring task … paint something, dig something up, plant something, clean something …
    5. No seriously, get in some great physical activity.
    6. Sleep in at least one morning.
  1. Try something different devotionally. Consider taking your normal devotional time outside to find God in creation, perhaps to see Him in a sunrise or sunset. Find Him in unexpected places or routines. Walk in solitude and quiet. Hear His reassuring voice in the familiar sounds of nature.
  2. Finally, and most importantly, don’t feel guilty about not thinking about school and instead giving your full undivided attention to family, friends, your family pet, or even your favourite activity.

You have done great work. You are a faithful servant of our Heavenly Father, a steward of what He has entrusted to you. You are loved. Go into a time of Sabbath rest experiencing the blessing of our risen Saviour. Take a lesson from Franklin: use this time as a “power nap”, to be energized for whatever lies ahead.

Ray Hendriks is Senior Advisor at Edvance Christian Schools Association.