In the movie Chariots of Fire, Scottish Olympian and devout Christian Eric Liddell memorably tells his sister, “I believe God made me for a purpose. But He made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Liddell could not forsake this talent for running that he knew was a gift from God. He worked hard and developed this ability with all his heart, and he unflinchingly gave all the glory for his success to his Lord and Savior.
The 2021 summer Olympic Games that recently concluded featured thousands of athletes, from runners to swimmers to gymnasts, all in their absolute prime, representing their home countries and competing for gold. They made it look so easy—many viewers at home were surely inspired to get off their couches and start their own personal exercise programs! But the gold medal winners’ brief, shining moments of glory were the culmination of many years of disciplined training, strict dietary regimens, painstaking efforts—the result of shedding a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears.
Rest and Recovery
Oh, and they got plenty of rest along the way. They need to rest and recover, and their minds need a break, too. Their bodies cannot endure being strained to the limit every single day. All athletes, including Olympians, need rest in order to train and compete at the highest levels. Similarly, our overall well-being creates a ripple that impacts everything we do. If our well-being is not strong it will impact the well-being of our family. And, if the enemy can disrupt the well-being of our family, then he will not only thwart our primary responsibility of passing on our faith to the next generation (our children), but he will also get our life so frazzled that we will be an ineffective educator.
God seems to have made His entire creation with this same template in mind. Even the earth, which cycles through seasons, needs rest. Farmland is at rest during the winter months, and farmers often employ entire seasons of fallow so that the soil can be replenished and become more fertile. Genesis reveals that God formed the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested for a day. He knows what’s best for us, and the six days of work followed by one day of rest was set in place as a blueprint that He clearly intended for His creation to follow.
The Emotionally Healthy Leader
Peter Scazzero, in his book The Emotionally Healthy Leader, emphasizes his personal well-being with this powerful thought: “God opened my eyes to see I was a human being, not a human doing. When I first became a Christian, I fell in love with Jesus. I cherished time alone with Him while reading the Bible and praying. Yet, almost immediately, the activity of my life (‘doing’ for Jesus) began to eclipse the contemplative dimension of my life (‘being’ with Jesus).” Scazzero goes on to say that the foundational definition of an emotionally unhealthy leader is “someone who operates in a continuous state of emotional and spiritual deficit, lacking emotional maturity and a ‘being with God’ sufficient to sustain their ‘doing for God.’”
To perform at our best as educators to fulfill the call God has on our life, we must maintain our spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. We absolutely must follow the same formula of implementing rest into our schedules—each day. We need rest at the end of the school year, at the end of every week, and every day. Only then will we truly achieve well-being and flourish into the educators God intends us to be.
How can you do this? What are things you can do to get rest? One obvious example is to spend time alone with God in prayer and meditation. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus tells us (Matthew 11:28). Samuel Chadwick stated, “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”
Alone Time with Our Lord
Oswald Chambers weighed in on the importance of prayer and alone time with our Lord: “The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him.” In response to Chambers’ comment, Christian scholar and theologian Dr. Jim Denison says, “But our culture doesn’t measure success this way. It rewards activism, busyness, haste, and hard work. What our culture does not understand is that we can do nothing significant for God until we have been with God. Only when we are empowered by His Spirit can we advance His Kingdom. There is nothing wrong with activism, hard work—what Oswald Chambers is simply saying here is that our public activity will depend on our private time with God…”
Excitement is in the air as we approach the new school year. I pray that you are refreshed and replenished and ready to face it head-on. The school year can seem like a sprint and a marathon all wrapped up in one race, because that is exactly what it is. So run with purpose, in such a way “as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24). But keep in mind that even Eric Liddell famously withdrew from his best event, the 100-meter dash, in the 1924 Olympics because the qualifying heats were on a Sunday. Liddell went on to win a gold medal in the 400-meter dash, a race in which he was not favored.
Run through each day with a smile on your face, working to please Him and not man. Glorify the Lord with your work and by doing so you will feel His pleasure. And don’t neglect the daily, weekly, and annual breaks. Your well-being depends on it. Just think about the joy God must have expressed as He created the heavens and the earth; let that be your example every day as you teach and encourage your students and faculty. And then, just like He did, take time to rest.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Larry Taylor is the president of ACSI. He previously spent 20 years as the head of school at Prestonwood Christian Academy (PCA) in Plano, Texas, during which time Dr. Taylor co-launched a national training institute for schools, “Becoming a Kingdom School Institute,” and developed a training program for parents titled, “Becoming a Kingdom Family.” Dr. Taylor authored the book Running with the Horses, which helps parents raise children to be servant-leaders for Christ and helps to build a family plan. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.