Rest and Performance
Good morning. This is resting theology.
On Sunday I received six emails in my work inbox.† I get emails at nights, weekends, holidays, you name it. Some tell me they take PTO just to get work done without being bothered.
Simply put, people are working a lot. To get ahead in competitive environments, you have to work hard. The performance of the company—and your career—depends on it.
At the same time, however, workers need to rest.
Employers and employees are at odds in this way. Employers want to maximize profit margin, squeezing more workable hours out of their people. Employees also want to maximize their profit margin, squeezing more compensation from less work, at least that’s what I thought.
Data from The Nation shows that we’re working more hours than in the past.
Of course, the number of working hours varies by industry and by age group, race, and gender. And if you zoom out to see older historical periods, we work only a fraction of what they did in the late nineteenth century, for example.
According to the Chicago Historical Society, people worked twelve- to fourteen-hour days six days a week during the Industrial Revolution. These conditions led the way to the Eight-hour Movement and labor unions, from which we benefit today. Yet some say we’re the most overworked developed nation in the world.
The question that’s been coming to mind the last few weeks is one of balance:
How do you show that you want to work hard and advance your career while at the same time create healthy boundaries for rest?
I don’t want to check my email or plan my week on Sunday evenings, but if I don’t, am I more of a slacker than others? Will people think they can’t depend on me to get the job done? Am I a “less profitable” employee?
My hunch is that many people feel this shame or guilt from their employers and coworkers, whether real or imagined. The pressure of performance creeps up in many and various forms, subtly snaking its way into your psyche.
This weekend, I hope you feel the freedom to know that you’re a worthy person regardless of how much you work. A sabbath rest awaits you.
Thanks for reading.
† You might be thinking, “Only six?!”