In attempting to serve the church and our neighbour with all our hearts and minds and strength, we can find ourselves sucked into a lifestyle which undermines our very purpose and makes nonsense of our message.
It’s all easy to work the treadmill called ‘church’ until we’re worn out, and alienated from our families. To them we may have become the tired and irritable strangers who are never home to take their own incessant phone calls. This is particularly the case if we belong to a fellowship in which all the important people, upon whom others model their style of discipleship, are perennially exhausted. Some give the impression that they see time off as a cop-out for spiritual failures of evidence of a lack of commitment. Even going out to work can be seen as a ‘necessary evil’, interrupting as it does the ‘real work’ which God has ordained!
Much that passes for Christian fervour is workaholism with a religious gloss.
Many of us have a perception in our head that e.g. “God is a perfectionist slave-driver who takes delight in setting impossible tasks.” What kind of message is this to give to others?
Part of the title of this book is taken from The Message translation of the Bible (p10)
Matthew 11:28-30: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on relgion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it . Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Using books such as these, and trying to actively take their message on board (rather than enthusiastically thinking I have it all sorted) and use some of the strategies that they offer to make a difference. I was challenged once as to why I was so proud of the fact that “I’m not afraid of hard work” – still not sure – it’s the way it’s always been in my family with a strong dose of the Protestant work ethic, I guess. I have good friends who encourage (sometimes force) me to sit still (although this still often involves reading a book) and congratulate me when I manage it. A question I have to debate is raised on p.20; “What is so painful that she can’t afford to have an idle moment lest it break through into her consciousness?”
Prepared for use as as an Oak Hall leader.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.