I felt so exhausted I just couldn’t go on. I was in undergrad, buried under the weight of 18 credit hours, a job, a Greek TA position, intramural sports, a mentorship group at a student fellowship, and church. I felt like Atlas the Titan each week, bearing the weight of the world and trying to survive the onslaught of crushing responsibilities. I knew I had to change something, so in desperation I decided to try taking one day each week to Sabbath.
Although there is debate about whether Christians should follow the Sabbath today, I think almost everybody can affirm the importance of rest. Despite that admission, precious few of us actually rest well. In this article, I want to walk through a couple of moments of practicing a Sabbath to give us a reference point to think more generally about the concept of rest. In particular, I want draw attention to how the themes of arrogance, humility, and rest relate together.
When it came to taking a Sabbath, I really didn’t want to take a day off, but my fatigue left me no other option. As I began to think about my hesitancy for resting, I realized that one main reason I didn’t want to take a break was because I thought I could handle the rigors of working seven days a week. Turns out, my pride drove me into the ground. I was so hesitant to take a break because I lacked the humility to recognize my own weaknesses.
But that’s not the only place where pride insidiously wormed its way into my thoughts about work. I had a hard time taking a break because I thought my work was so important. After all, I was a Greek TA! I had to slave away in the library because those papers I was working on mattered. And, to some extent, that was true. But, I had become so enamored with the significance of my work that I began to live as if the world would stop if I stopped working. I had elevated my own position so much that I felt like I had to keep working as if the world depended on it. If that’s not pride, then I don’t know what is.
And if you let that thought go unchecked, then arrogance continues to fester. When you become so enamored with yourself, you have to maintain that image to yourself. Pretty soon, your world stops if you stop working because you cannot live without deriving value from your work.