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Rest Well to Serve Well

When I have conversations with volunteers and they mention that they are tired and worn out, my first question is if they truly experience a Sabbath. Nine times out of 10, their response lingers on concepts of being so busy because of work, school, family, friends and that monster called a social life. Having a day of true rest has gotten lost in our culture and it’s incredibly unhealthy. 

What does it look like to have a Sabbath? 

There are Scriptures that point to what it is supposed to look like and accomplish, so I’ve learned to interpret them so that they have a modern application. I ask the volunteer to try a true day of rest, where they don’t do laundry, or run errands, or pay their bills, or clean their house. Resting also doesn’t necessarily mean staying in bed all day. For me, it means taking one day out of the week to truly rest and reflect. If you’re taking a day off, that means doing what you feel rejuvenates you and staying away from the things that feel like an obligation. I spend time with the people that I want to spend time with (including no one at all if that’s where I’m leaning at the moment). Reading a good book, laying on a blanket at the park, coffee with a friend, watching a movie or even doing my laundry because I love the smell. Not because I have to, but because I want to. 

Often I find that my advice for my volunteers falls on my own deaf ears. Working in ministry feels like an uphill battle, where there is always something to be done. There’s always a volunteer I need to invest time in, email to respond to, paperwork to complete, events to be organized, books to be read and vision to be cast. And taking a full day off a week seems like poor time management when I could get so much accomplished in that time. So I start negotiating with myself and God. I’ll just do email for an hour. I’ll slip in this one meeting because I ran out of meeting space during the rest of my week. Or I can curl up with a book—this one on ministry that I’ve been needing to read, even though it looks a little soul-sucking. Hey, time is precious, right? I have to squeeze as much stuff into my packed schedule as possible or my church is going to collapse around me. 

Or is it? 

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I often forget that God calls us to a day of rest. We aren’t machines and ministry doesn’t live or die based on working seven days a week. Co-laboring with the Holy Spirit means that we aren’t these magical beings that have been appointed supernatural powers that preclude us from taking care of our human bodies. And even human bodies aside, God rested on the seventh day and enjoyed what He had created. What should make us think we are any different? 

So what do you do to fulfill the command of taking a Sabbath? What does it look like for you? And how does that act of resting and reflecting impact your life in ministry?

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