This is one of the things I need. A rest, a time apart, a space for rest and time for renewal. It is extremely difficult to carve out a Sabbath when others do not know what it is or how to help you observe it. It gets even harder if you do not want to advertise that you take a Sabbath. It’s odd at how you have to present it. How do you tell a group of people that you need to take a break so that you can work better, more efficiently, if they just want you to work at all times for them. It is a very different cultural mindset, not one that makes immediate sense in our culture of rush rush hurry hurry respond immediately please.
I take a Sabbath… I do it nearly every week. I’m still getting better at it, I am not holding the practice as well as I would like. I do keep from checking my email during my Sabbath. I do try to cook a good slow meal on my Sabbath day. I also avoid setting an alarm clock, and really I avoid looking at the clock for the day. I would like to be able to go and do some things outside on my Sabbath, and I would like to be able to stay away from my computer more on my Sabbath. I could even, gasp, read my bible on the Sabbath in a way that is not directed towards figuring out a sermon.
Basically, I am not sure that I know how I want to spend my Sabbath, but I want to be able to do what ever I do with more intention. Perhaps not more planning, but more intention.
Why do I want to do this? I believe I need to do this. I know that pastors as a whole are over worked and overstressed. I think we have created a culture in which a pastor is available at all times, regardless of plans or circumstances or anything. And, even if someone is not in need of contacting me at all hours, I still operate as if it could be possible that someone will need to get to me, regardless of day or hour. It’s not healthy. How do I find the balance of being able to respond to the needs of my community, and yet also keep myself healthy and able to function without burning out? How do I take a break?
God was able to create the world in a finite amount of time, and is still creating each of us new each day, and yet, God also took a break. God instituted the First Sabbath, and set aside one of the seven days of creation as one for rest.
I’m not creating the world. I am merely working inside of it. The audacity to think that my time is more important than that of God’s is ridiculously silly. I am not that important. The world will not end if I take a break once a week.
So; how to teach it? More than merely by example. The reason I will need to teach beyond example, is that many of my church members only see me once or twice a week. Any more often than that and it is a special occurrence. They don’t’ see me often enough to know how I live. The only example they see is a slightly frantic ten minutes before worship, and then the leadership of worship and a sermon…. It is not enough to let them know who I am or how I live.
But, the idea of saying, I take this day every week off, don’t contact me unless it is an extreme emergency, and I won’t check email that day either, comes off as extreme if the concept of a Sabbath has not been taught. So, then what…
What if I taught a series on spiritual disciplines?
What if I did a weekly prayer service and so folks were in a worship setting that was focused less on me?
What if I was to have a covenant group that held me accountable?
What if we could direct our focus on what God was doing in our lives, instead of how I was failing to meet unspoken expectations?
There very well may be others, but I am not sure what they are right now.
Do you take a rest that rejuvenates? How do you set aside time and space for that? How has it helped you grow?