The Necessity of Rest and Sleep

Four key components for physical well-being include: proper nutrition, consistent quality exercise, spiritual vitality (yes, our spiritual health directly influences our physical well-being) and sufficient rest/sleep. We will focus on sufficient rest and sleep.

Sometimes we flaunt our “badge of busyness” as a measure of personal self-pride and significance. Perhaps it is the inability to say “no” when additional ministry opportunities surface. There are numerous rationales for excessive work, yet overwork should not be applauded, endorsed or excused. God’s creative order includes rest. To ignore adequate periods of rest is physically detrimental and an act of disobedience before God. Rest is a spiritual vocation done “as unto the Lord.” Yet, too often we consider rest to be a waste of time.

The following five principles regarding rest are from Dave Lewis, associate professor/head women’s soccer coach, Huntington University.

  1. Rest is a spiritual discipline. As a spiritual discipline, rest restores our mind, body and spirit. God has ordained rest in order to replenish the vital functions of our bodies such as respiratory and circulatory systems, muscular and skeletal repair, cognitive performance and memory recollection and the restoration of energy levels.
  2. Rest may be experienced in a variety of ways. What comes to your mind when you consider rest for yourself? Some individuals welcome a quiet walk in a park, while others enjoy bicycling along the path of a shallow stream. Would you enjoy getting lost in a novel sitting in a comfy chair next to the glow of a fireplace? Perhaps the bubbling, warm stir of a hot tub is your ideal form of rest. Some modes of rest may seem quite odd. For instance, I find grocery shopping a restful respite following the conclusion of several hospital visits. The main idea is that rest may be experienced differently from person to person.
  3. Adequate sleep is vital for health. Sleep deprivation can lead to impaired cognitive functions such as inattentiveness and memory loss. It frequently leads to increased stress, mood swings, irritability and depression. Sleep deprivation is also linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other disorders. Highway fatality statistics indicate that sleep deprivation is a leading cause of accidents that closely parallels the levels of drug and alcohol-related impaired driving incidences.
  4. Adequate rest is essential for healthy ministry. Our mind and spirit need to be “readied by rest” as we study God’s Word for sermon and lesson preparations. We need to be at our best as we oversee meetings, provide pastoral counsel and as we seek the Lord in prayer on behalf of our congregants. The disciplines of pastoral ministry are strengthened and enhanced through the practice of replenishing rest. We need to hear and abide by the words of Jesus when he calls to us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Pastoral ministry is hard work, and hard work necessitates the discipline of rest.
  5. Rest prepares us for greater fruitful productivity. As a God-given restorative exercise, rest equips us for greater capacities. During the onset of the Industrial Revolution, factory owners were obsessed with productivity and profit. In time, productivity decreased because the workers were tired from the long strenuous hours that were wreaking havoc upon their health. It wasn’t long before the owners realized that unhealthy workers were less productive. Consequently, measures were put into place for reduced working hours and to provide opportunities for rest, leisure and exercise. The results were greater productivity. We can learn a spiritual lesson here: obedience to God’s call for rest will enable us to be better prepared for ministry in his service.

To learn more about rest and sleep, see the following videos:

Physical contributor: Dave Lewis, associate professor/head women’s soccer coach, Huntington University.
Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus
Curator of content: Dave Higle 

This year marks 40 years in ministry for Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church. Follow along this summer as he reflects on the ministry lessons he’s learned along the way.