There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest.
Use both and overlook neither. ~Alan Cohen
As leaders, the end of the year can get really crazy. Businesses focus on boosting sales. Retailers work overtime. Non-profits campaign to raise a significant portion of their budget. Spiritual leaders create extra opportunities for people to engage. Everyone adds extra activities to their schedule. Not to mention all the family stuff! As the days grow shorter and the body longs to wind down during the long evenings, there is no rest.
The vineyard teaches us a different rhythm at this time of year.
It teaches us to pause…to rest.
The vine has been very active during the rest of the year and photosynthesis has been the main job of the leaves. Remember Fourth Grade Science class? Basically, the light from the sun is absorbed into the leaves of the vine by way of chlorophyll. When combined with water from the roots and carbon dioxide, the energy is converted into glucose and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere and the glucose is used to fuel all the growing parts of the vine. Here is a word formula:
Carbon dioxide + water + light --> glucose + oxygen + water
All this happens magically inside the millions of tiny chloroplasts inside a leaf. Chloroplasts are filled with chlorophyll which give the leaf its green color. In the fall, as sunlight decreases, the process slows and, finally, stops. All the sugars drain down into the vine away from the leaves and the green in the chlorophyll gives way to the yellows, oranges and reds of autumn.
So (stay with me, here)... the vine stores the sugars through the winter and, in spring, the stored sugars are used to start the process all over again, sustaining the new growth of the branches and leaves until the leaves get to be about two thirds of their mature size. This can take a while! If the plant runs out of glucose before the leaves can sustain the plant through the photosynthesis process, the vine will suffer and the harvest will not be as robust as it could be. Here's the point, the only way to get a harvest this year is to tap into stored energy from the prior year. The metaphor is clear...
As leaders, we must reserve energy during certain seasons in order to be fruitful in the next.
After a season of hard work and fruitfulness… Rest. Let go of the leaves that no longer serve the life of the vine… push the pause button on gathering and producing… allow the energy to settle into a deep reservoir… This is the rhythm of sustainable leadership: Cultivate, Grow, Harvest, Rest (Repeat).
Most leaders are not great at resting, including me! It takes practice to rest well. Don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t come together just the way you want. Be patient and keep trying. The discipline of pausing regularly will make you more productive.
Some leaders find scheduling rest to be an effective strategy. I like to take advantage of serendipitous moments to create rest. For example, instead of jumping into another activity when a call or an appointment gets canceled, I often just take a few minutes to rest, which regularly includes observing and being grateful for something in nature. How do you find rest during a busy season? Care to share?
Need encouragement? Conversations in the Vineyard helps leaders find a sustainable rhythm. Inquire now before the end of the year (which costs nothing) and, if you decide to join a group in 2018, you will receive a $100 discount. Don't worry... If you already inquired in November, this discount will automatically apply to you as well.