Almost daily I get an email from a ministry leader who is tired and on the verge of burn out. There is so much about “ministry-world” that is exhausting. I understand this reality… firsthand. It’s real and ugly!
Too many leaders don’t even slow down enough to be faithful to God’s call for a Sabbath rest.
When I was a young leader I received great advice from a mentor who urged me to faithfully guard and protect a weekly day of rest. I’m so grateful for that advice and encouragement! Without intentional action, it’s simply too easy for a leader to slip into justifying non-Sabbath actions like, “I’m just going to pop into the office,” or “I’m so far behind, I just need to catch up” or “They need to spend time with me and I don’t think I can say ‘no’.”
I fully understand that the Sabbath doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all experience, but for what it’s worth, here’s how I try to approach my day of rest:
I want to experience as many of the following as possible:
• Relaxation. I take it easy. I sleep in. I don’t fill the day with a lot of activities. I try to maintain an attitude of rest throughout the day.
• Recreation. I usually feel better and accelerate my rest after some form of exercise. It may be at the gym, but it’s usually a long walk or hike with my wife, Cathy.
• Relationships. Any time I choose to spend time with someone on my Sabbath, I make sure it’s a relationship that inspires me, breathes into me, and is rewarding for me. No work, just friendship.
• Reading. Throughout the week, much of my reading focuses on speaking or sermon preparation, so on my day of rest I usually choose light and fun reading.
• Reflection/Restoration. Reflection describes my extended time with God. I’ll usually reflect on the past week, look through my calendar, and think about what I might have missed that God had laid out for me. A busy week usually doesn’t allow me the time for reflection that I want or need. Restoration describes personal soul-care. It’s my time for worship, prayer, silence, Bible, and journaling.
There is no usual order to these areas… I simply try to experience all these throughout the day.
For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. Exodus 20:11