«Then He said to His disciples: The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’ » (Matthew 9:37, 38).
Much is said about the need to work for God by serving others. The field of work is wide, the labor is plenty and there are always endless possibilities of work. As long as there are poor, sick, suffering, and hopeless people, it cannot be said that the work is done. However, despite the countless activities, we all need to take some time to rest and recover our strength. It is true that being a volunteer has compelling benefits on physical and mental health, however, there is a limit to what one can do. Too much work can also be physically and mentally draining. That’s why a volunteer also needs time to rest.
An Australian group of researchers led by Timothy Windsor examined more than 2,000 retirees between the ages of sixty-four and seventy-eight, who regularly volunteered. In their study, they noticed that there is an advisable amount of hours devoted to service that is associated with an optimum level of well-being. This ideal level is achieved by those who dedicated between three and fifteen hours per week to volunteer work. Those who dedicated less than two hours did not perceive any benefits. Those who devoted more than fifteen hours per week to volunteer service experienced a drop in their positive mood and life satisfaction, not to mention experiencing striking physical exhaustion.
Far from helping, excessive volunteer work reduces efficiency in service. To be able to perform better, some preventive measures must be taken. Some of the best ways to restore your body and mind consist of taking breaks to rest, setting work limits, and respecting daily and weekly resting periods.
Jesus Himself, who devoted His life to doing good to others, interrupted His activities to rest and seek unity with His Father (Mark 6:45-47). He especially taught to put aside a weekly day of rest as it is described in the heart of the Ten Commandments, «Remember the Sabbath day, the to Sabbath keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work» (Exod. 20:8-10).
Jesus did not demand ceaseless toil from His laborers, but He bade them: «Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.» (The Ministry of Healing, ch. 3, p. 58). Remember that Christ’s method will result in optimal performance in His service.