Why Working Harder Isn’t Always the Answer

Not long ago a friend posted this on facebook.

Image by Jill Blakeway

Image by Jill Blakeway

My cursor hovered over the “like” button for a moment, but I just couldn’t click. You see, it’s not true … not entirely.

YES — It is my job to get up every day and work, because God has given me this work for His glory and my sanctification. But it is GOD’S JOB to produce results. Those results may or may not be what I anticipate. My dreams may never come true no matter how hard I work.

Does God care about my dreams? Sure!

Will He make them come true? Only if they align with His will and desires. Even then — only in His timing.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” — Proverbs 19:21

The more I read the works of the writers I admire most, the more I discover they each struggle with the same things: learning to rest in God and setting healthy boundaries. All of them work hard, really hard. I admire that tremendously! They produce much and they live passionately. But they struggle to turn it off and just be. I do, too. My husband always tells me I need to ask my boss (me) for a day off. I grin and ignore him, but he has a valid point.

At a conference last November I sat in a stadium classroom filled with women leaders. The speaker asked us to sit still for two minutes. Two minutes is not a long time. No problem – right? She asked us not to pray, not to think, not to plan or worry. Just sit. To be still before God.

It took about 3 seconds for the tears to come. I don’t sit still often enough. I itch and ache and wrestle and writhe in silence. I don’t listen well and I trust even less. But isn’t that what God asks of us? Be still.

Oh, but it’s more than just being quiet. He asks us to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) During the storm Jesus’ command to the waves wasn’t to stop, but to “Be still.” (Mark 4:39) And they did! Why? Because even the waves acknowledge that He is God.

Plans vs. Reality

We make lots and lots of plans, don’t we? I often beat myself up over plans that get thwarted, goals that are never reached and fruit that … well, the fruit rots too quickly, never grows in the first place or looks like some kind of freakish hybrid of what I intended.

Stick to the plan. Stick to the plan.

My well-versed mantra fuels stubborn adherence and discipline, but if my plan fails to align with God’s plan, sticking to it only secures a more intense failure. Not to mention, emotional shredding. Every dip and trial teases of failure. Every detour feeds doubt. Trusting my plan, trusting myself, is foolishness when …

  1. I am finite with limited vision and perspective.
  2. Not all circumstances, details or results exist within my control.
  3. I have access to One who is infinite, omniscient and sovereign.

It’s okay if reality doesn’t match my plan, because — when I take the time to be still, I can know Who holds that reality. I know Who allows every divot and trial. I know Who holds me along the journey.

When I know Him, I can rest in Him, knowing He is fully capable of doing whatever He deems right, with or without me.

My plans may be good, but His are better.

My work may be fine, but the results are in His hands.

He is immeasurably good and I choose to praise Him in the midst of everything. Even my heavily thwarted plans.

So, yes, work hard, know what your gifts are and where you want to go, but — before that — more important than all that …

  • Seek God to align your plans to His.
  • Acknowledge that the results are not always (in fact: rarely) under your control.
  • Be intentional with when and how you rest.
  • Know in Whom you place your trust and for Whose glory you’re working.

working harder

Talk to me. How do you balance discipline with rest? Tell me your thoughts on our responsibilities vs. our trust in God to take care of things.

Talk to me!

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