I’ve spent more hours in a pool than you might believe. I started swimming year round in eight grade and kept at it all through high school and briefly into college. As a teenager, I was constantly in the pool and like any competitive guy was constantly looking for ways to go faster.
One of the ways to swim faster is to limit the number of breaths you take. Every time you turn your head to breathe, you are using energy and breaking a little bit of momentum. So, breathing every two strokes is a really bad idea. It’ll slow you way down and everyone will blow right past you. On the other hand, if you don’t breathe enough you run out of the air you need to swim. Sure, I could bury my head and not breath for 8-16 strokes when I really needed to and, yes, it really did shave off some time. But it’s not sustainable. It’s the kind of thing you do right at the end of a race. It’s not the normal pattern. For me, I needed to breath every 4-6 strokes.
Many of us lead like the exhausted swimmer who doesn’t take enough breaths. We don’t allow ourselves to rest frequently enough to sustain our pace for the long haul. Yes, I have met some leaders who breathe way too often but they are rarer, at least among the people around me. I’m mainly in touch with leaders who try to see how little rest they can allow themselves.
You can get away with that for short seasons. But leading isn’t a short term game. It’s a long term commitment and to sustain that commitment, you need time to breathe. Rest isn’t a sign that you are a wimp. It’s a sign that you are smart, know your limits and trust God to work through you as you follow Him.
I want to lead a team that swims longer and faster than any other. And for that reason, I want to lead a team that breathes well and enjoys the rhythms of rest.