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I’ve found that biographies are a great way to take our minds to other periods, “live” someone’s life, learn some of their lessons, and reassess our own lives.
One of my life principles are: competent people are competent also at getting rest and recharging.
To be constantly busy does not mean we are productive. It’s just being busy, which is often a mask we use to convince ourselves and others that we are important. Theologian (and a former professor of mine) Bruce Hindmarsh puts it like this:
Busyness is moral laziness [because it is often a statement of our self-importance and our excuse to be inattentive to people]. . . . But God has given us just enough time to do what we need to do moment by moment to respond to him. And his grace is there; it is eternally present. Every moment is a sacrament where time touches eternity and there is exactly enough time to do what God has called us to do.
There are things life can give us only when we rest. Some of our most creative ideas, for instance, often occur when we are jogging at the park or taking a shower. Some of our emotional breakthroughs take place when all technology and noise is off and we are alone in the presence of God.
These ideas and breakthroughs don’t happen when we’re in a hurry. They happen when we rest. Rest is good and sacred, as God demonstrated when he rested on the seventh day (in part to set an example for us).
So I take rest seriously. My wife and I dedicate our Saturdays as family time and try not to have work meetings. We try to have a maximum of three ministry nights per week of meetings and dinners with people. And we try to have a time in the year when we travel and rest as a family.
This year our summer will be spent also with work, visiting friends and preaching at churches in Brazil. We’ll get bodily tired but our soul will be refreshed by these encounters.
But we’re trying to weave in some days of bodily rest too. For that purpose, I just ordered a biography I plan to read (this time it will be Alister Chapman’s biography of John Stott).
Over the years I’ve found that biographies are a great way to take our minds to other periods, “live” someone’s life, learn some of their lessons, and reassess our own lives.
And to read a biography during our vacation, when our hearts start to ask big questions – like how am I doing, where am I going, does my life count, how can I grow – helps us recalibrate our perspective.
Give it a try. It’s a wonderful exercise for rest and growth. Select a book about a person you admire – the person you want to be when you grow up – and learn from them.