87: Tensions of Life: Part 1 – Work & Rest With Adam Setser
No matter how much you love what you’re doing, at some point you’re going to get tired and eventually, will need to rest. Being pressured into not resting by society is one of life’s biggest tensions in a world that’s always awake. Financial adviser and collegiate minister Adam Setser and Thane Marcus Ringler discuss the importance of getting the proper rest, not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. They talk about the various strategies and rhythms you can integrate into your life in order to achieve a work-rest balance. This episode covers the different aspects of rest to help you understand why resting should not be taken for granted.
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Tensions of Life: Part 1 – Work & Rest With Adam Setser
I’m joined by my brother, A-bomb Adam in Baldizi. Maybe we should do a video podcast, but that highlights a great point that we are now on YouTube. If you want to check out the video side, we do have a YouTube channel up and running. Check us out, The Up & Comers Show on YouTube. All of our episodes 80 and on are going to be on there. Speaking of tension, we’re going to be talking about tension. We’re starting a new series, aren’t we, Adam?
We are back. I’m excited to do this little series because it forces us to make us put our minds to paper a little bit or at least give us some structure to our thoughts about tensions because our new mantra is about tensions. I always like to have a list of things to back up that mantra. I hope as the series unfolds, we have a good group of topics and thoughts that we’ve put on paper to later put this all together in a big tome.
The life work of Thane and Adam, it’s going to be expansive and weedy. Before we get into it, we have a couple of reminders. Leave us a rating and review if you haven’t. We’ve got over 50 five stars. We’ll read it if you write up something funny, nice or real. If you haven’t shared this podcast with a friend, that’d be a sweet way to support us. Send a couple of episodes to people that you think could benefit from it. You can always send us an email at TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com or find us on all the socials @UpAndComersShow. Speaking of tensions, this is a fitting topic for us because I am nasally. That means I’ve been a little sick and under the weather. Adam was hacking a lung earlier, partly because he’s been a little sick and under the weather too, which is ironic because we’re talking about the balance between work and rest.It’s easier to wait until you have clarity than it is to say, 'I don’t know.' Click To Tweet
I think we need a little more rest, but we never get enough of either.
It’s like both buckets are seemingly never full enough, but I tend to struggle the most with the rest bucket, to be honest with you and you probably do too. I honestly think probably most people reading this blog and most people in America do struggle with that same one. There’s such a cultural aspect to this. For you, Adam, why do you think rest is hard?
We’re trained to live on the momentum that we’re afraid of losing that momentum, especially me being more in a sales role. For number one, you can attest to this as well, that there’s a fear that comes maybe of missing out but also just allowing the unknown in. Busyness is a form of godness that we inflict on ourselves so that we don’t have to face that unknown. We make ourselves busy with what’s clearly known in our lives. If we leave space and openness to that, we’re afraid of what might pop out and ruin our world as we’ve created it. It’s maybe a little deep answer but that’s true for me.
I’ve been noticing lately that I procrastinate and put off so much of the things that I don’t know like the unknown. You keep pushing it further away because it’s easier to avoid or wait until you have clarity than it is to say, “I don’t know,” or to embrace an unknown and wade into it. Even in text messages, emails or relationships, whatever it may be, when it’s something that is unknown, we tend to put it off. It’s been interesting just experiencing that. There’s something about rest to that too, because it doesn’t necessarily produce something tangible. It’s almost unknown and we think that it won’t lead to beneficial products, results or achievements that we can hang.
There’s a sermon that you sent me that I wish everyone would listen to from Tim Keller on rest. What he says is, “The reason we are afraid of it and we don’t rest as much is because of the eternal inner murmur.” He got that from an article in the New York Times or the New York Book Review. He liked that article and assessment because it strikes on this fundamental principle of humanity that we have this inner murmur that is constantly telling us we’re not good enough or we’re not doing enough. It’s the negative drive and force that we have to constantly override and prove ourselves different. He said, “That’s why many people have achieved so much is through that motivation of proving their legitimacy.” The greatest example he gave was a runner in the same group as Eric Liddell back in the day. Eric Liddell decided not to run on Sunday and choose to rest. One of his competitors asked him, “Why do you run?” He says, “I have ten seconds to legitimize myself.” His point was in the 100-meter dash or whatever that you can do it in ten seconds and that’s all he was there for.
I connected with that. Personally, my relationship with work and rest is in and out in a crazy way. This is not a small thing for me. This is one of the highlighting principles of my life. This has defined me. In the past, when I heard that sermon from Keller, it lets me see my past in a new light. I was able to see that when back in the day when I was racing on a bicycle or training for piano, even in college and studying, there are disciplines I applaud myself to. I went way overboard with how much work I put in and I overworked myself extremely. In cycling, I was over-trained chronically and it led to a lot of health conditions I have. At least, I allow them to happen. For me, I’m invested in that. I was unable to rest because spiritually, I was not at peace with God at the time. There’s a spiritual component to all of this for sure. Resting inevitably, as a spiritual exercise, if you don’t have peace with God, you fill your time up because you’re running from Him. That’s what I was doing without knowing.
Keller said, “We were made for more than that. We were made to achieve rest to enjoy the rest of God.” He references Hebrews 4:7 about that issue and how we are supposed to enter the rest of Christ. Not just rest, but the rest of Christ. The reason it’s Christ’s rest is because only He can rest 100%. Only He has achieved perfectly what he was supposed to achieve. All of our achieving is done in light of that. We’re free to achieve less 100% because we can’t. We’re imperfect people and Christ is not wanting us to do that. God is not calling us just to sit back and rest more. He’s calling us to rest as a pervasive life mantra and work within that context. Realizing that we are resting in the completed work of Christ and all we’re doing is adding flourishes on top of that.Resting, inevitably, is a spiritual exercise. Click To Tweet
One thing that you hit on there that was good is the different aspects of rest. It’s not just physical, it’s also spiritual and emotional. You can even add a mental component. There are many layers to it. It’s not just a binary type term or way to think about it. It’s multifaceted for sure. Each of us struggle with certain areas of that, different realms of that more than others. It’s important to realize that there are different ways that we rest and there are different needs that we have for rest in that. I know that the one we always default to think about is physical, but the spiritual or emotional, those are often more important.
The word that Keller called is self-reproach. That’s saying, “I’m not good enough until X, Y or Z.” That’s something that we all face. We all have that voice telling us we’re not good enough. We haven’t arrived. That’s a half-truth. Some of that is true that we haven’t arrived. That’s a good thing. It’s only half-truth because there’s a point where we have to release a self-dependence and rely back on God dependence. The question I was curious about is where do you feel or experience the most pressure for this? Is it external or internal? Where are those voices coming from? Where does this pressure for you come from to turn a blind eye to rest?
It’s genetic, partly because we’re all either different types of people. I’m definitely a type-A. My wife laughs at me because I’m similar to her dad in that way. We both are driven and a little bit ADD when we sit still and he hates to sit still. It’s funny that I’m similar in that way, but I also have read a lot of books because of God forcing me to sit still. I’m trying to find a balance to that myself. A lot of that pressure comes from my personal thing of being a split personality. On one hand, I’m driven. I want to get a lot of stuff done and on the other hand, I want to sit still and value that. There’s a part of me that I’m overjoyed when I do and I’m like, “I can’t get enough of this,” but then I go back to the other personality and I have to be either/or. I can’t be both in the same day and at the same time. Keller even mentioned in his sermon on how we need to add in periods of rest during our workday. Find those periods and times to take a break in some way. I don’t do that because I’m terrible at that. My problem is I’m so goal-oriented that I can’t stop myself from achieving it sooner rather than later in order to rest. I see that as a barrier.
It’s definitely counterintuitive in a lot of ways because it’s saying no to work and the task now to say yes to better work and task later. At the moment, it never feels like that. That’s self-discipline of preaching that truth to ourselves in the moment where we can say yes to that even if we don’t feel like because most of the time, we don’t feel like it. Honestly, some of the biggest voices is just culture. The culture around us is pervasive on achievement until we have intentionality around resting, especially for me in a place like LA. It is such a bad place for rest, partly because there’s an endless amount of demand on you. Not only because everything is more expensive, but also because everything takes more time and there are more people doing all of those things to where the demand is high that you feel that it’s even ramped up. It’s the same all throughout America, this pressure of comparison of achievement and of finding our identity in what we do and what we accomplish instead of who we are. Those are powerful pressures that I know I feel a lot, especially here in LA.
Where in your life do you think you had the best balance of that and where did you think it came from?
I had one of the best balances mainly because God forced me to. I ended up pulling a muscle in my neck and back. It was partly because I was burning the candle and turned it into too much. It was God’s way of slapping me lovingly. I took a week off from working out and prioritized a week-long rest like sleeping more and being slower in my work and in my output. It was such a blessing. I physically, tangibly experienced a blessing from that. Even with that, I get back into all the things. Lo and behold, I drive myself into a hole again and get sick. It’s funny. I feel like a little child sometimes because you taste and see that it’s good and then you go right back to the old ways. It’s humbling in that. What about you on the flipping? When are you most out of balance?
I’m mostly out of balance when I’m obsessing about something and that obsession is what I have to fight. I’m a type-A but more than that, I’m obsessive. For example, if I’m at work and I get on a roll or I get some opportunity, I want to stay at work until I’m done. Whether it takes me 1 or 2 weeks, I don’t go home, sleep and eat. I’m cool. In the same way at home, it’s more likely a project that overwhelms me and I want to get it done. It can be as simple as research and campers to buy because it’s a big decision and I don’t want to mess that up. I want to strap myself to some camp. I need to do all this due diligence. I had to make sure I need to double-check and triple-check. I need to do all this research and coat with this analysis scale so I can figure out what’s good for all of them, bad, pros, cons and all this.
I’m chilling out doing that, but there’s so much brain activity involved and soul-sucking attention that I’m almost scared now to do that stuff. I’m afraid of getting down the rabbit hole of researching some ideas or things that I’m about to strap myself to. Whether it be thinking too deeply about what I’m teaching for Sunday school because that may obsess me or into something I’m buying or doing and building at the house or at work. It’s almost like I have to keep myself at arms distance a little bit to some things because I’m afraid they’ll overtake me. My past is bad. I have a track record of not being able to keep a healthy balance when I’m in the hot heat of the moment. That’s what I aspire going forward. I’m able to dive into the heat of the moment and set an alarm every 30 minutes later. I’ve got to stop reading this issue, stick to it and move on. Even if it’s a self-imposed timeline, impose it because it helps you keep a balance and it’s something that nobody does that I know. That’s why I hadn’t done it.Accountability is better held outside your inner circles. Click To Tweet
That’s the intentionality. The first step is always recognizing, then understanding and then it’s optimizing. Recognizing is seeing it. Understanding is putting those two arms or that arm’s length out and being okay like, “I’m not going to fall into this trap.” Optimizing is being able to dive into it but come out of it better on the other side and it’s true. For me, that’s even with things like the Sabbath and practicing a Sabbath differently. I’ve experienced the benefit from it and I know the tangible fruit of it. I know the design in it and I need to commit to it. I’ve realized with my schedule, I won’t make that happen until I dedicate a day before the week even begins because it’s chaotic and there are many things going on. I’m wearing a lot of different hats to wear. If I don’t pick a day before and be resolute in that decision, it’s not going to happen. I’m working on getting better at that, but it still takes a lot of discipline. What do you think are the rhythms that help you consistently have intention in that tension and find balance or prioritize rest well? What are those daily, weekly or monthly? What are the rhythms that help you?
It all comes down to accountability and reviews. I need to force myself at the end of every day to review the day. Typically, I don’t do that because it hurts. I review the day and I’m like, “Suck that,” like eight times over, but you need to do it. You need to face that fear, and review the day and go, “Where did I fail in this way? Where can I be better?” Realize that most of the world doesn’t even involve themselves at that level of self-analysis. You’re already ahead doing it. Do the process and trust the process of reviewing and then keep yourself accountable by involving someone else in the conversation. I would recommend it not be your spouse or your boss. Accountability is better held outside of those two circles but be open with someone you can be open with. For me, that means a personal coach. It’s been incredibly helpful because it gives me a community, even if it’s small, that I can be open with and find insight. Also, be accountable to the process. There’s no rocket science. The process yields result and has for hundreds of years. It’s putting yourself in that.
There are also some interesting rhythms that I feel like God has just put in place. The fact that 1/3 of our time each day should be resting. We need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night on average. That’s a scientific fact that most of the research shows everywhere. The other is six days on and one day off like that whole form of the Sabbath. There’s an interview that I did with Allie and she’s awesome. I’m excited about that. She talked about sabbaticals. Her rhythm was set every seven years or so having a sabbatical. I thought that was a good thought process every 7 to 10 years. Honestly, that’s a good window anyway because that’s the known or at least the discovered amount of time for pursuing mastery in a field.
Is she in higher education?
She’s not. She’s an author and she worked a lot in trafficking and she’s building her own company. There’s something to that every 7 to 10 years taking a three-month sabbatical where it’s just a full detox. There are some great rhythms that are already seen in creation and in the structure of the world and how God designed it. There are also some great universal ones and there are also individual ones. For me, I need to spend at least one day a week where I’d take an hour and reconnect to my vision and analyze, “How am I doing?” Check in, sit with my pen and paper, get thoughts out and see where I’m at because if we don’t sit with us, we’re not going to know us. For me, it’s morning and evening routines that are foundational to the rest of the day. That helps me maintain a better rhythm throughout the day. Prioritizing the amount of sleep I’m getting is non-negotiable. I wake up at 4:50 AM but to do that, I go to bed by 8:30 PM, old man status. There are a lot of interesting structures that we can see and find.
You talked about every seven years doing something. That can be as granular as every moment of the day, every hour or as big as every ten years. You have to have a proportional scale there from moment to moment up to that point. Every Sunday should be a certain rest. If you’re pastoring, it’s Mondays or if you’re going on a problem, maybe it’s Saturdays. There’s one day a week where you focus on resting, reconnecting, and getting rejuvenated for the next week. Typically, I’ve started to get intentional about that. At the end of the week, I make sure that my resting is not just haphazard but intentionally focused so that I am ready to go Monday morning. There’s something my wife and I talked about, why do we complain throughout the weekend that it’s almost over, “It’s Sundays. We’ve got to go to work tomorrow.”
Do you want to combat that negativity on a Monday morning at 5:00 when you’ve got to get up? You want to be prepared for that. We start combating that on Saturday night. When Sunday rolls around, we spend all day getting juiced up for the positive things that are coming on Monday morning. That’s what has been most successful and probably what the most critical practical use of rest is, in preparing you to work. If you don’t rest with that in mind now, then the rest is almost not worth it because we’re not dead yet. There’s a day coming when we’re in heaven and we’ll rest forever and that’ll be our lifestyle, but now we still work and we still have the toil. We still sin and have to repent. There’s still that rhythm and that rhythm is what forces our rest rhythm to be always focusing on the work rhythm, too.If you don’t sit with yourself, you’re not going to know who you are. Click To Tweet
You made a huge point there that we need to have more focus and more intention with our day of rest than with our days of work and I do. That’s something that’s super convicting for me. It’s like, “I don’t approach those days with as much focus or intention as my normal workdays and that’s totally lopsided.” That’s massive. We need to take some serious intention into those days of rest. It’s only one day of the week anyway, so there should be an extra focus and extra intention into it. It’s a non-negotiable. The other thing is the information overload and the over connection and stimulation that we have. Those are probably two of the biggest catalysts for business and the lack of rest. The fruit of that is seen pervasively in the anxiety and also over a depressed generation that we have now or society that we have. There’s a strong correlation between those two things. It’s not a small issue in that light. When was the last time you felt fully rested?
I don’t know fully, but before I got married, I was a crapshoot. I’d rather lay and never did rest much. After I got married, to be honest with you, my honeymoon was insane. I felt like getting away for a week. I was physically tired because we were busy adventuring. Even to this day, Faith is talking about how we spent three hours on the beach the entire week of our honeymoon. That’s her testament to my obsessive type-A nature. I cannot sit still. Even in our honeymoon, one day we rented a Harley and rode around. We rented another three-wheeled bike thing. It was always something we’re exploring and that’s not a bad thing even though I wasn’t physically rested. For me, the first weekend we took our camper out was hard to beat because spiritually it was there. There was that component with the camping being like nothing to do in a good way. Mentally, I’d finally gotten clarity at work to where it was neat and tidy in my mind. I couldn’t forget it. When I pull out of the driveway at work, I’m done until I come back. It was awesome. It was definitely rejuvenating.
For me, it was probably a week of rest on my Sabbath day. It was the combination of those two. I felt fully rested, which is cool. For everyone reading, the important question to ask yourself, “When was the last time you felt fully rested?” It’s going to surprise you how long ago that probably was. Remembering that experience can help us get back to that place. That should be more of a consistent reality, not a distant reality. Hopefully, this talk on the tensions of life and the balance between work and rest was helpful for you guys because it’s something that is an ongoing thought process and will be an ongoing discussion between me and Adam for sure. It’s important to be living a good life as we’re all striving to do. Until next time. This has been fun.
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- Sermon – Work and Rest sermon by Timothy Keller
- Allie – next episode
About Adam Setser
Vocationally I am a Financial Advisor at The Kerrigan Group, but my background is in divinity. I graduated from The Masters University in Los Angeles with my BA in Biblical Languages, and am on temporary leave from my MA in Theology at SBTS.
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