As a spiritual leader, it is important I rest. Not like our dog, Harley, who seems to spend much of the day sleeping! One way to ensure I am following the discipline of rest is to ensure I take a Sabbath day every week.
Because my wife Gail is not a Salvation Army officer, and works full time herself, most weeks my Sabbath happens on a Saturday. It’s my day with her. I try not to be involved in any work. I try to ensure all we have to do is to play and rest. Here are five ways I ensure that happens:
I Prioritise It
I recognise it is part of God‘s plan for the world and for humanity to have a day of rest at least once a week.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. (Genesis 2:2 NIVUK).
If it was good enough for God to do, then I should certainly do it! If it aligns me with God’s plan for my life, then I have to make it a priority. It has to be as important to me as any other day. I recognise it’s good for my health. It’s good for my relationship with Gail. It’s often a day we spend with other family members or close friends, so it’s important to those relationships too. It’s good for my church too. They benefit in so many ways if I am not tired and crotchety!
I Put It in my Calendar
If anything is important, if anything has a priority, then it goes in my calendar. So my Sabbath has to go in my calendar. I follow Michael Hyatt‘s idea of an ideal week, so I simply have a weekly recurring appointment for Sabbath on a Saturday. Of course, there are times when something else is happening on a Saturday. When that happens, that week’s Sabbath gets moved to another day in the week. If the Saturday event will not take up all of my day then I will try to claim those hours back on a day in the following week or so. If my Sabbath is not planned in advance and put in my calendar, then my calendar soon gets filled with other things.
I Learn to Say No
Taking a regular Sabbath takes discipline. It takes discipline to actually take the day off you planned, because there’s always something else you could be doing. I would love to tell you that when I get up from my desk on a Friday evening everything is finished and my to do list is at zero. But if I did, I’d be lying! I could probably fill most Saturdays with things that need to be done. But I have to discipline myself to leave them alone. That’s hard enough. But I also have to do the hard job of saying no to others. I will be invited to work on a Saturday. I may even be offered good opportunities. I will want to take some of those, as long as I can move my Sabbath somewhere else on those occasions. But if the diary gets too full, I will have to turn some of those invitations and opportunities down, in order to protect my Sabbath. Not only that, but in a busy church, members and others will want to contact you with non-emergency interruptions. I’ve learned to say no! I have found most people can understand that (particularly if they perceive how hard you work the other six days) but some won’t. I have the impression that those people would be the first to complain if you suddenly stopped performing at your best because you were burnt out, so I try not to feel too guilty about them.
I Get Over Myself
One of the most important things that Sabbath teaches me is that I am not God! Somehow, he manages quite to sustain the universe quite well without my help when I take a rest. The world keeps turning. The Church stands strong. The Salvation Army doesn’t collapse. Even Basingstoke Salvation Army seems to cope! Taking a Sabbath is proof that I trust God and that I trust others, who carry on working when I am resting.
I Prepare for It
During the other six days, I work hard. Those six days are full so that the seventh one isn’t. Work has a horrible habit of filling whatever time you give it. If you give it all seven days, then you may get the same amount done in more time. In other words, you efficiency suffers. You may, for example, procrastinate more, eating up your Sabbath day, but not really getting the benefit that a full day off gives you. I work hard at planning and organising my work so that it gets done in six days, leaving the seventh for rest and relaxation. This also extends to housework. It maybe that you get rest and relaxation from vacuuming or ironing (or many other housework tasks that need doing). I don’t! So Gail and I try to ensure all those things are done before Saturday and our Sabbath.
What do you do to protect your Sabbath? Why not comment below.