The popular expression “twenty-four seven” dates back to the 1980s. It first appeared in print in a 1983 Sports Illustrated article referring to Jerry Reynolds’ jump shot, which was good “24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.” All the time. That’s what it means.

I love you,
baby, 24/7.

The expression quickly made its way into the business world, particularly in service industries like banking, where ATMs made banking available 24/7. Many stores and service providers, from fast food and groceries to emergency medical facilities, advertise they are open 24/7. And the internet and related communication technologies have made information, helplines, shopping, entertainment and social media available 24/7. We love the convenience and instant gratification!

But perhaps our 24/7 expectations are more curse than blessing. As we become aware that life happens 24/7, we may begin to fear that important things slip past us. The fear of missing out was first identified and studied by marketing strategist Dan Herman in 1996 and popularized by Patrick McGinnis, who coined the term “FOMO,” in 2004. FOMO can be a source of real anxiety.

While communication technology is very cool—I remember my first PDA, first Blackberry, first smartphone—our devices tether us to the world. Our friends, professors, students, colleagues, bosses, and family seem to expect us to be available to them 24/7. We feel pressure to respond immediately to that latest text, and wonder why we have not yet received a response to the email we sent 20 minutes ago.

And as we understand that our communities—professional, social, political, even spiritual—engage nonstop, we pressure ourselves to put in the extra hours, to produce, to be present, to volunteer, to be visible, to be available … 24/7. If we don’t, how can we stay current, much less get ahead? So we get tired and, in extreme cases, burn out.

The wisdom of Solomon encourages us to think and act differently.

Unless the Lord builds the house,

those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early

and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:1-2

First, we are to recognize our dependence on God.  Work is good, but unless God is involved with us, our labor has no eternal value. As we grow in faith-informed discernment, we embrace our dependence on—rather than independence from—God. Invite Him into your life and work through prayer.

Second, we are to recognize that our identity is found in Him, not in our accomplishments. With that recognition comes freedom from a performance ethic. While God calls us to work, equips each of us to contribute to His kingdom in various ways, and expects us to do our best, our value to Him is not based on our production. Thank Him that He loves you unconditionally.

Woman rests with her feet upThird, we are to recognize that God does not want us to produce 24/7. To the contrary, He wants us to take time to rest. So He gave us the daily cycle of sleep and the weekly cycle of the Sabbath. Taking time to not work, to unplug from media, go on vacation, spend time with God’s people, to worship and pray, gives us the opportunity to refresh, helps us learn to leave things in His care, and to remember our ultimate dependence on His provision. As Psalm 121 reminds us, He never slumbers or sleeps.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” So take a break.

Looking for more posts like this? The McLane College of Business publishes a weekly devotional written by their own faculty. Go check out Crucial Connections and read more!