Have you ever felt guilty for taking a break? Have you ever kept your own exhaustion quiet for fear of disappointing someone? Have you ever kept on doing something even though you knew you didn’t have enough energy?
So here’s the kick back moment to my last post. Perseverance is important, vital to being human. You know what else is vital to being human? Rest.
I just got done reading in Exodus, chapter 31 to be precise, where after giving the meticulous instructions for the tabernacle, God points out some skilled, inspired individuals to head up the work. You’d think God would stop there. “All right, you’ve got the instructions. Get started!” But God has one last thing to say. God commands the Sabbath, the day of rest, to be kept… and not keeping it would be a capitol punishment. Yikes!
So what’s that got to do with us? Well, considering that we are a people set apart for God’s purpose of restoring creation… making sure we set aside a day of rest is part of what makes us who we are. That particular bit didn’t just apply to Israel and modern Jews, we’re expected to keep it as well.
Why? One, because we model God when we make sure to stop and rest. Two, we show our trust and dependence on God when we rest – we’re accepting that the world will continue to spin without our efforts. Three, human beings need rest, plain and simple. You want to be more productive? Take a day off.
Our culture, however prides itself on overwork. We work overtime, plugging away as hard as we can, and many business models applaud this behavior and reward it. But it leaves people burned out husks, broken and depressed, sapped of all joy that used to accompany their work.
As a minister, I feel this pull all of the time. I’m doing the Lord’s work, right? That means if God’s going 24/7, that I go 24/7. Wait… that doesn’t sound right. God doesn’t need me. God chose to use me, and if I burn myself out, then I’m not much use to anyone. It takes a long time to recover after burnout. I should know, since I’ve hit it several times. After some good counsel, though, I am very protective of my day off.
I have Thursdays. My phone is for emergencies and pleasantries only on Thursdays. Email sits unopened for a day. I usually do some cooking or baking, which I love and can enjoy something I’ve made – and it doesn’t feel like work. My wife and I go for a walk, or on a date on Thursdays. I protect my day off like an angry bulldog. I’m getting in the habit now, so that when kids come along, I already have a whole day carved out for family.
This is one of my particularly hot issues I have with today’s culture. I want you to be assured that keeping the Sabbath is a part of your worship life. It’s a part of your spiritual well-being. Sabbath involves rest, play, and worship.
If at any point you feel burnt out in your service, or feel like life is too much. Take a break. Refresh, reset. Whoever your serving alongside should understand if you need that time. In fact, they should encourage it.
There are inherent tension points in Christian life. Here’s one of them. Persevere, and also rest.It may not make sense now, but the more you take a Sabbath, the more you realize just how necessary it is.
How do you model the Sabbath at your house? Do you take days off? How busy is your schedule?