Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

The Teaching Practice of Rest

Bridget's Postby Bridget Watson

I was working into all corners of my schedule. I would wake early to make copies on the way to class. I would spend hours hunting down the right articles or podcasts to use as texts for lessons. I assigned my students the task of calling me, spending time with me, teaching me something— which adds up when you teach 300 students! I would regularly lesson plan well after midnight. And I did this day in and day out, without any distinction of days. The rest would come after I finished grades at the end of the semester— I could handle that… right?

After a few years of this hectic schedule, I felt like I was serving my Master by sacrificing so much to lesson planning and time with my students. Not free to come over Saturday? Okay, let’s meet Sunday! But I was exhausted. And I was empty. I felt I had little to give to these precious students.

One day, a wise older friend who had spent his whole life as an American living in Asia spoke about Sabbath. It was the first time I realized devoted rest was not just an ancient concept. Now that I have studied about our Master Teacher’s idea of rest, I see that it is for all seasons[1] and for all who are around you[2] and that this leads to refreshment. His rest is a promise that even seems to resemble the peace of our Future Home[3].

When I speak to like-minded teachers now, I ask about their rest patterns. In my experience, most fellow followers of the Master have not set aside a regular period of time to devote to rest, refreshment, and recreation. In fact, novice teachers may look at me with a degree of incredulity as they are completely overwhelmed with their new responsibilities as teachers.

We seem to believe the lie that says: Keep working; to rest is lazy! I will be so bold as to say this is akin to idol-worship. A bit more gently, a psalmist tells us, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives His beloved sleep.”[4]

I personally believe taking this time to put a halt on all work is the greatest act of trust I can make. Like the Israelites of old, collecting enough manna prior to Sabbath[5], I am confessing, “I trust you. I have done my best, and now I hand over to you this period which I will believe is not a waste of time.” It has brought life back to me and my family, and I hope it will be a practice that will refresh the souls of all hardworking teachers trusting in Him.


[1] “…In plowing time and in harvest,” Exodus 34:21, Holman Christian Standard Bible.
[2] “…That your ox and your donkey may have rest,” Exodus 23:12, Holman Christian Standard Bible.
[3] See Hebrews 4.

[4] Psalm 127:2, English Standard Version.
[5] See Exodus 16:5.

Further exploration

What’s your perspective?

We welcome your comments on any of the ideas in this post or in answer to the questions below.

  • What are some of the real challenges to the practice of rest?
  • Whether in your own culture or a host culture, how is the notion of Sabbath counter-cultural?
  • Can the practice of rest improve our teaching practices, habits, decisions? How?

Post Author

Bridget

Since 2001, Bridget Watson has been living and teaching in China— the place where she met her husband and had both of her children. She has an MA in TESOL from Azusa Pacific University and completed a certificate in TESOL Teacher Mentoring in cooperation with Wheaton College. Her teaching experience continues to broaden as she branches out to teacher mentoring, TESOL teacher training, and homeschooling.

 


Photo Credit: svenwerk via Compfight cc

6 comments on “The Teaching Practice of Rest

  1. jlshylla
    August 17, 2016

    Hi Bridget, thanks for that timely advice! This post spoke to me in all its entirety. I have seriously got to learn to take a break and to rest. Good to hear from you again after so many years.

    Like

    • Melissa
      August 19, 2016

      So nice to see you on here, Jacob. And I know what you mean. I’m pretty good about making time to rest, but then the time isn’t always restful. Let’s both work on resting. 🙂

      Like

  2. Bridget Watson
    August 17, 2016

    And good to hear from you! I’m sure this is a very real issue for someone like you who is working so hard to make a difference in many people’s lives. I hope our Master can speak to your heart how and when to take these times of rest!

    Like

  3. Marilyn Lewis
    August 18, 2016

    YES!!!! Thank you Melissa for sharing this.

    Such a basic principle. I remember in her extreme old age my grandmother reprimanded me for knitting on Sunady. The twist to that story is that sewing and and knitting had, all her young life, been the way she clothed her family whereas for me knitting was a fun hobby. I could buy cardigans for the children for a fraction of the cost of buying wool. (Not that I argued with Granny!)

    Each of us has to decide what constitutes work and then avoid it on the Sabbath. Of course that’s unless people follow the profession of your father and mine!!! In my retirement I decided that turning on the computer lead to ‘work’ and so it goes off from Sat evening to Monday morning.

    Bye for now.

    Marilyn

    ________________________________

    Like

    • Bridget Watson
      August 18, 2016

      I’m so glad you bring up that point! It is so important that each one of us takes the time to evaluate which activities are “workful” and which are restful.
      Beyond that is analyzing which restful activities are actually leading to renewal and refreshment, not just relaxation.

      Like

    • Melissa
      August 19, 2016

      And your friends in other countries know that you cease from computer work for your Sabbath, and we don’t expect any responses until your Monday morning has passed. 🙂

      I also say YES! to Bridget’s reminders in this post, reminders I need to hear!

      Like

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This entry was posted on August 17, 2016 by in be still, Bridget Watson, rest, tips for new teachers.

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