Preliminary Note: The point of this post isn’t to argue whether the Sabbath is a matter of law or wisdom. Regardless of ones views on Sabbatarianism, we should all agree that regular rest is wise, and is essential to our health and wellbeing.
One lesson that God has been teaching me lately is the value and importance of Sabbath. By Sabbath, I mean ceasing from our work physically and spiritually for a period of rest. As a young church planter, one thing I’ve noticed is that we really live in a Getting Things Done culture that idolizes productivity and regularly neglects rest. If you don’t believe me, look at how many books have been written in the past few years about productivity and compare that to how many have been written about Sabbath.
Another thing that I’ve learned as a church planter is that you cannot have productive work without rest. They’re two sides to the same coin. You might be able to swing it for a little while, but sooner or later you will crash and burn if you don’t incorporate rest into your normal rhythms of life. Not only do we need to work well to the glory of God, but we also need to learn how to rest well to the glory of God.
Being a godly leader means being a faithful steward of what God has given to us. Productivity is good, and God glorifying, but it shouldn’t be our primary goal. Our primary goal should be to glorify God by being good stewards of what He has given us. One thing He has given us to steward is physical bodies, and our bodies regularly need time to rest, recharge, and recuperate.
According to David Murray in his books The Happy Christian and Reset, cranking out work at dizzying speeds for long periods of time without rest puts you at high risk for things such stress, anxiety, depression, ulcers, burnout, heart attack, stroke, and other conditions that can lead to hospitalization.
When productivity becomes idolatry, not only will you pay the price, but everyone around you will feel it too. The question is, will you stop joyfully or painfully? Here are 5 things that I have incorporated into my own rhythms of rest that have been effective for me. I pray that they could be effective for you as well.
Plan Your Sabbath
Plan your rest? Really? You need to actually plan your rest? Yes, yes, and yes.
Tim Keller said this, “Rest, ironically, is an activity that must be prepared for and then pursued.” This is true. But, be careful with this one. There are two equal temptations that we can fall into here. One is to over plan your Sabbath. The other is to not plan it at all. Don’t fall into either of these temptations. Put it on your calendar before you put in anything else.
One thing I’ve done that’s been effective for me personally is incorporating a framework for my Sabbath. This helps me to keep it planned, but not over-planned. I make sure my Sabbath is avocational, devotional, and inactive. By this, I mean that whatever I’m doing looks different from my vocation that is refreshing, I’m keeping up on my devotional life, and I’m spending time being inactive. The things that I fill this framework with is always different, so this allows me to remain flexible while also remaining structured.
One day my Sabbath may look like working on a personal woodworking project (avocational), continuing in my daily Scripture reading and journaling (devotional), and then taking a nap with the family (inactive). This will obviously look different for everyone, but try incorporating this framework into your Sabbath.
Change Your Location, Change Your Perspective
This one’s going to look a little different for everyone as well. For my family, it’s tough to unwind when we’re at home. This is because as a church planter who currently doesn’t have office space, my home is my office most of the time. This is also true for my wife who operates a business out of our home. For us, a daycation goes a long way. If you’re like us and can’t relax at home, go somewhere you can. Maybe that’s spending the day relaxing at a park. Maybe that’s visiting family. Whatever it is, do it.
If you live in West Virginia, take advantage of our states beautiful scenery. Take the day and visit places like Chief Logan Park, Summersville Lake, East Lynn Lake, Cathedral Falls, or Hawks Nest. Those are some of my personal favorites.
Turn Off Your Technology
Our technology is doing something to our brains and bodies. Studies are beginning to show that unchecked technology usage can actually can become addictive. People are now beginning to experience things such as “Nomophobia” (No-Mobile-Phobia), “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) – the fear of being without a cell phone, disconnected or off the Internet, “Textaphrenia” and “Ringxiety” – the false sensation of having received a text message or call that leads to constantly checking the device, and “Textiety” – the anxiety of receiving and responding immediately to text messages.
As a culture, most of us have unhealthy attachments and even addictions to technology. A recent poll done back in 2016 indicated that 50% of teens feel addicted to their tech. This same poll showed that 69% of parents are checking their phone at least hourly.
This ones simple, but it’s probably the most difficult to do. Turn your technology off on your Sabbath day. That means your tablet, cell phone, or whatever. Even secular institutions are beginning to catch onto this, and are beginning to discuss the benefits of turning off the tech.
Personally, I cannot rest if my technology is on. If it’s on, I’ll be tempted to responding to messages, checking emails, or scrolling through social media. The point of taking a Sabbath day is to unplug, spend time resting both spiritually and physically, and to connect with my family. It’s tough to do those things when our faces is firmly planted in our tech. The world will continue to turn if you don’t send out a Tweet, post a photo on Instagram, or post an update on Facebook. I promise.
If you can’t bring yourself to turn off your phone, then at least consider turning your smartphone into what I call a “dumbphone” on your Sabbath day. One thing that used to be effective for me before I began turning my phone off was taking every single app on my iPhone and dropping them into one folder. From there, I would move that folder to where it was a little more difficult to reach it. I would then disable all sounds and notifications. This worked for a while, but began to become tedious every week. Turning my phone off for a day was way easier, and now I don’t spend the time dragging my apps in and out of a folder.
What are somethings that have been working for you? Let me know in the comment section below.