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Equally Revering Work and Rest

Written By Paul Brandes

A Kaleidoscope of Personality Assessments

I’m a big fan of personality assessment tools. DISC, StrengthsFinder, Working Genius, Myers Briggs. You name it, I’ve done it. I’ve found them to be a helpful tool on the journey to discovering who God made me to be. I’ve also found them to each have various strengths and weaknesses, which means they become exponentially more helpful when viewed as part of a whole. DISC helps me communicate more effectively with others. Working Genius helps me see where I fit on the team and within the project life cycle. 

And the Enneagram? Well…that one sort of feels as though it sees into my very soul. 

And before you get nervous, don’t worry. I’m not here as an Enneagram evangelist. I promise. More than enough of those exist in the world. No, what I actually want to promote is the musical project Sleeping At Last, led by singer-songwriter Ryan O’Neal. Ryan got his start in the early 2000’s about 45 minutes from where I grew up, so he’s been a part of my life for the better part of two decades. Over the years, Ryan has undertaken a number of ambitious and innovative projects, including Atlas: Enneagram, his album that contains songs he wrote for each of the nine personality types within the Enneagram framework. 

When it comes to determining which Enneagram number you are, it’s preferable to take a “narrative” approach (as opposed to an assessment-based approach), to map your life and carefully discern your type. I’ll never forget the moment I first heard the Enneagram 3 song from Ryan’s Atlas: Enneagram album

From the opening line, Maybe I’ve done enough… all the way to the final stanza, I only want what’s real / I set aside the highlight reel / And leave my greatest failures on display with an asterisk / Worthy of love anyway.  Virtually every word connected viscerally with my heart and soul. 

But there’s one stanza in particular that recently I’ve been unable to shake.

 

The Gift of Sabbatical

I have been the recipient of a sabbatical. Our church’s commitment to this spiritual discipline is extraordinary and unique, and a great gift to the pastoral staff. The time away was an incredible blessing of renewal, restoration, refreshment, and rest.

And it’s that last word, “rest,” that connects back in with the Enneagram 3 song. Famously, Enneagram 3 personality types (known as “The Achievers”) are really good at working hard, and really bad at resting well. 

Now, it’s good to work hard! God is the first worker, and he created us to image him in that way. Jesus, too, knew how to work hard and engage with fullness. But look closely at Scripture and you’ll also see not just divine work, but also divine rest

In six days God created the world, and then on the seventh day, God rested. Jesus worked hard all day, serving, healing, helping. And then, Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying (Mark 1:35). Or later, after the disciples have had their own busy day of working and serving: [Jesus] said to [the disciples], “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat (Mark 6:31).

Or how about what can brilliantly be called “The Great Invitation” from Jesus at the end of Matthew 11: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The witness of Scripture is clear: In the eyes of God, both work and rest are “equally revered.” Now, that phrase, “equally revered,” is a direct quote from the Enneagram 3 song that so deeply impacted me. Here’s the whole stanza:

I only want what’s real
To let my heart feel what it feels
Gold, silver, or bronze hold no value here
Where work and rest are equally revered

To “revere” something is to have deep respect and admiration for it. To value it. To uphold it.

And I can honestly say that until my sabbatical, while I conceptually agreed with the idea of work and rest being equally revered, I had never fully lived into it. Which is why those days of rest  were such a gift. And why I’m attempting to re-order some priorities.

Because while work matters, so does rest.

 

Rest as Silence & Solitude with Jesus

Now, soul-level rest can (and should!) take many forms. I’m not going to prescribe my rest-discovery journey to you. Part of the joy is the journey! But there are a few universal forms of soul-level rest that faithful apprentices of Jesus have engaged in for generations. 

One such example is “coming away” (Mark 6:31 again) for times of silence and solitude with Jesus. John Mark Comer’s chapter on this in The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry makes an incredibly compelling case for the vital universal need for this. The whole chapter (and whole book, honestly) is worth a read, but here’s a quote from the final section of the chapter:

In our ears we sense his voice cut through the cacophony of all the other voices, which slowly fade to the deafening roar of silence. In that silence we hear God speak his love over us. Speak our identities and callings into being. We get his perspective on life and our humble, good places in it. And we come to a place of freedom. Our failures slowly lose their power over us. As do our successes. We get out from under the tyranny of other people’s opinions — their disapproval or approval of us. Free to just be us, the mixed bag we are. Nothing more than children with our Father. Adopted into love. Free to be in process, yet to arrive, and that’s okay. In silence and solitude our souls finally come home. That’s what Jesus meant by “abide,” the verb of abode or home. The place of rest. We come back to our places of soul rest. To what Thomas Kelly called “the unhurried [center of] peace and power.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Sounds like something to revere doesn’t it? I’m certainly on that journey. Will you join me?

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