Rest! Take time to rest. Doris Kearns Goodwin (Empower 19 ASCD Conference) said that strong leaders find time to think, relax, and replenish energy.
How important is rest? Consider:
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2)
“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD.” (Exodus 31:15)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:30-31)
The apostles didn’t even have time to eat on some days. The crowds were so great, and the work was tiring. Jesus knew the apostles needed to relax. Even Jesus went to a solitary place to pray. He needed time to reflect on all that was happening and what was to come. We, too, need time to think and replenish our energy. Jesus understands how tired we can get and the heavy burdens we may carry. Jesus tells us to come to Him in order to receive the rest we need.
Leaders do need time to rest if they are going to be any good to the people they serve. Time away from work allows leaders to wrap their minds around problems and happenings. Rest rejuvenates their bodies, minds, and souls so they are able to meet situations or concerns head on. Rest provides a chance for reflection. When leaders are in the middle of their busy schedules and days filled with constant work – they don’t have time to reflect. Reflection is necessary for strong leaders.
I remember as a principal the long days, the constant decisions that needed to be made throughout the day, the problems and situations of families and children that were beyond my control to fix… At the end of the day, when everyone was gone, I would sit back in my desk chair and wonder if there was any impact being made. I looked back on the day and all the moments of “failure”. How can we do this, I would wonder. It seems impossible, Lord, to meet the needs of each and every child in this school. I grew weary and tired, sad and hopeless. Lord, how could you ever call me to such a position? I needed rest. I needed rest to see the successes happening around me each and every day. I needed rest to know that we were making a difference in ways that could not always be measured. I needed rest to have faith that God was with us, guiding us.
Teaching is one of those professions that must have a rest period. Teachers want time to think and reflect about the past day/year and the one that is to come. Teaching is emotionally taxing and draining; teachers need time to replenish their energy including their own emotional energy. This profession is people centered: crowds of children with needs. Teachers have little time to eat and little time to even use the restroom. Things come from everywhere: children, parents, colleagues, administration, the community… Rest is imperative if we are to have strong teachers.
So rest those weary bones. Ease your mind. Reflect on not only the things that have gone wrong, but on what has gone right. Lift your spirit. Take time to be alone and pray. Have faith. Rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul!