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Work Hard, Rest Hard: Protecting Your Time Unapologetically

Jul 10, 2023

This post is by Jen Stanbro.


Most of my life I’ve tried to be intentional about choosing to spend my time in such a way that closely reflects my priorities. I received those priorities in the quiet. Alone with the Lord, He’s been ever faithful to give me clarity about who He made me to be, what He prepared for me to do, how He designed me to function at my best, where to pour myself out and how to fill up.

I’ve never been shy or private, I love to talk and get to know people, hear their stories, share my own, find points of connection and grow, even from confrontation. Creatively, I really love a good collaboration. And while I can thrive with a full plate, I draw my energy in times of solitude. Thus I’ve had to set strong perimeters around my time to allow for that.

It hasn’t always been understood by others. In my early 20’s, I tried to hit plenty of moving targets until God showed my heart that the need is not the same as the call, that honoring Him in my relationships and commitments was not the same as meeting the expectations of others. A willingness to give can be easily manipulated by those who take (often unaware). Some hard changes were made. Looking back, I realize that I could never have walked in the mission God had for me if I had continued to accommodate others rather than follow after Jesus’ voice unapologetically. 

Today, protecting my time looks like many different things, big and small. Nobody, including my precious children, takes my attention or my time. I choose where to give every bit of it. It sounds maybe arrogant or harsh, even to my own ears, but it’s really been more like self-grace that has brought peace and empowered me to love joyfully. The alternative is stress winning the day, and I’m not good for anybody in that state. My phone is on silent (not even vibrate). I talk when I’m ready, check notifications when I feel like it. I reply to texts when I have the mental space to give them my full attention, which is rarely the same time they come in. I hope my friends and family know I love them dearly, I try hard to make that clear. But they also know they’ll get me when I can give me. AND they know, in turn, that they NEVER have to feel any amount of pressure to give me their time or attention immediately. I fully expect and respect being placed properly into their own priority lists.

Regarding our schedule, I keep our evening and weekend commitments to a minimum. This may be unique for me because my husband and I and a few of our kids are introverts.  I have to be even more intentional about filling my extroverts’ tanks with outings, activities, and social fun. That’s a fun balancing act. While we love hanging out with friends and family, social stuff drains our tanks. We prefer home to out, so I reserve just one day in the week for any and all appointments. I keep Sundays completely free. I decline invitations (not all of them) and scroll past event alerts left and right, holding to the ‘good-better-best rule,’ preserving the time to bask in the present. To sit and read a book, relax on the patio and enjoy the breeze, play a game or watch a movie with my husband and kids. These are things that fill us, so I simply make and protect the time for them…like an armed guard. Seriously.

That’s a little bit of time-protecting strategy from my world. What is the Lord showing you these days? Who has He made you to be? What has He prepared for you to do? How has He designed you to function at your best?  Are the choices you make with your time representative of those revelations? Spend time with the Lord asking, listening. Meditate on the Scriptures on rest and abiding, and then set your course accordingly. Much love to you!


Jen Stanbro is the singer/songwriter behind the Hello Mornings podcast theme song, “God Day.” She loves to hear truth cancel out the lies and see love overcome fear. Her heart aches for the oppressed and marginalized, and she seeks to reignite God’s holy fire in the hearts of His people to love courageously like Jesus.

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash


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