For most of the past dozen years, I’ve served as pastor of Pleasant Bay Church while holding full-time responsibility elsewhere. With Sundays busy at church, and my other responsibilities that were really more than full-time, I would rationalize my sloppy approach to Sabbath along the following lines:
· We were pretty good at taking vacations. A week, or so, in the summer, plus a few other breaks throughout the year… our vacations were a key to our strategy in pursuit of some Sabbath.
· I would take it easy on some Saturdays, unless I was preaching the next day (then about half of the Sundays), and unless there was something else scheduled. Generally, it was about one Saturday a month that would really qualify as a Sabbath.
· I didn’t think of my pastoral responsibilities as work. I would tell people that I found my pastoral work as mostly energy-giving rather than energy-draining.
I’m just now wrapping up my first month of my pastoral responsibilities being my main thing since we’ve taken the step to allow me to serve as full-time pastor. With this change in priorities and change in schedule, I have been purposeful about making Monday a Sabbath day. While I don’t completely unplug and am not religious about it, I do purposely let things wind down (usually Sunday evening through Monday afternoon). I haven’t been scheduling meetings or making agendas for Mondays. I relax, and let myself get distracted… letting the day take me wherever it goes.
It is remarkable what these days are meaning to me. Taking a weekly break, a real break, has a restoring impact that I’ve clearly missed.
Looking back, my rationalizations for the past dozen years about Sabbath were boloney.
As I continue to think and work through ideas about work and calling, Sabbath must be part of the mix… a vitally important part of the mix. If we are going to be successful connecting our work to God’s work, we must also be sure to connect our rest with God’s rest.