The funny thing about working in ministry is that, as I’ve been doing my best to live a more biblical life, it really has bred a more joyful life for me. One of the best (and surprisingly most difficult) things about doing this so far is having to adjust my lifestyle to actually take a sabbath. In the go-go-go society of busyness and money, it feels like making a big statement to not participate and I’ve felt some serious guilt for not doing any work for a full day. It says in Genesis that the Lord created the world in 6 days, and rested on the seventh. If God decided it was good to rest, why do I think I know better? One who designed and made all of creation must know better than me, who, comparatively, does a lot of e-mailing, meetings, and reading. Now, I’m aware that there are many different ways people interpret this. Regardless of all the debate, I think it’s quite clear throughout the entirety of biblical text that we are called to rest. I’m willing to debate on a lot of topics, but I feel like the idea of resting is clear enough.
In Ken Shigematsu’s book on the rhythms of life, God in My Everything, he quotes Wayne Muller:
“We stop because it is time to stop. Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished [our emails, our projects], we will never stop – because our work is never completely done.” (pg 44)
It makes more sense to take a sabbath than to not! Before the apprenticeship, I always considered taking a sabbath but the idea of losing an entire day of work gave me nightmares of falling too far behind in everything. So really, I considered it every week and instead did work throughout the day haha. Since starting the apprenticeship, it’s a key part to put this command into practice. Not only because it’s a command (although that’s reason enough), but because (in a practical sense), ministry workers are prone to burnout. People think that if you’re doing ministry you need to “give it your all” which is equivalent to working yourself to death. However, in the understanding that life is ministry, this method is really just a show of poor stewardship and an inability to understand that ministry workers are people too. Here’s a list of a couple things I’ve learned through taking this into practice over the past couple months:
- There’s so much more time in a week than I thought! Taking one day out of the picture made me prioritize and do a better job of organizing the rest of my days. The same amount of work actually fit, and I ended up wasting less time on YouTube hahaha.
- I actually feel well rested. It seems like a given, but when I intentionally take a full day off, I feel so much better as I go through the rest of the week because I start off with full energy levels.
- My family appreciates it. I moved in with my family after graduating, and for the first time in years we get to see each other more than twice a year. In taking a day of rest, it gives me more time to spend with them and in turn they rest with me. Win!
- Taking a sabbath is as much an act of faith as anything else I do. In taking this day off, I’m looking to God for providence. I have to assume that all is in the hands of God, and therefore removed from my responsibility and ability.
- I’m more productive. Taking time away from the hustle + bustle each week lets my brain shut off for a bit. I can look at my work with fresh eyes and process the learning materials from the previous week before moving further.
In sum, a sabbath is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and in practicing it, I can really appreciate why God the Father commanded this. It’s because it’s good. Really, really good. Fathers want to take care of their kids, they don’t want to work them to death. I still do day-to-day things on my sabbath like eat and clean up after myself, but I don’t do anything related to my job. It turns out that it’s made me a more effective worker, and a better friend/family member. You should try it because it’s seriously great.
p.s. it’s important to remember that you need to work on the other days…