The One Commandment Most Church Leaders Break Often

Church leaders are some of the worst examples of modeling healthy rest.  I wrestled with this for years!

God even commands us to do it……yet we don’t.

calm

…the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work… ¬†Exodus 20:8-11

Now, I’m not talking about a legalistic approach to the Sabbath, which includes checking off a ton of boxes to show we are ‘keeping the law.’ The deeper purpose of the Sabbath is so much more.

Taking one day every week and giving it Sabbath consideration does two things.

  • It proves to God that we really do care about what He tells us.
  • It forces us to create healthy margin in an increasingly busy society.

So…why do church leaders constantly struggle with taking a full day of rest?

Guilt | This is especially true of senior leaders. ¬†“The church is paying me to be the Pastor at all times.” ¬†No they’re not! ¬†You are in your leadership position to lead the congregation in healthy relationship to God. ¬†That means letting others see in you how to live the life God has called us all to live.

Poor time management |¬†“There is work to be done every day of the week.” ¬†Yes there is, but it can be done in six days. ¬†Pre-plan your studying, phone calls, meetings, appointments, and regular tasks to fit into 5 or 6 days. ¬†This is what ‘keep the Sabbath holy’ means.

Savior complex | Can I just shoot straight on this one? ¬†If you think you can’t take a literal day of rest because someone in the church ‘might need’ you, there’s a problem. ¬†What eventually happens here is people in the church learn to lean more on us as pastors and less on their faith in Jesus.

May I offer you a challenge? ¬†Take one of your regular days off and give it Sabbath consideration. ¬†For me, that day is Monday. ¬†Sunday is church and leadership…that’s work.

Be sure to check out my post on ‘4 Tips To Having A Good Day Of Rest.’

If this helped you, I’d encourage you to share it with someone else who could use it today.

Join the discussion.  Leave a comment below. 

8 Tips to Having a Good Day of Rest

photo by: www.fredmckinnon.com
photo by: http://www.fredmckinnon.com

Common excuses:

– My job doesn’t allow time.

– I don’t know anyone who really takes a full day Sabbath every week.

– I wouldn’t know what to do with a whole day of nothing.

РI simply have too much to accomplish.  Resting one entire day would be a waist!

Have you said any of these before? ¬†Be honest. ¬†I have. ¬†In fact, I’ve said all of them.

God set the example for us. ¬†He rested after 6 days of work, not because He was tired….but because He knew we would need real rest. ¬†He was simply modeling the importance of a Sabbath rest for us. ¬†And it wasn’t simply a loving, well-meaning suggestion. ¬†It’s included in the 10 Commandments! ¬†This is important, people. ¬†Especially for those of us in church leadership.

We must take what God modeled for us, and model the same to those we lead! ¬†It should be a large focal point of how we approach making disciples. ¬†Disciples are learners……followers. ¬†Therefore, they need to have something worth following. ¬†

So, what does this ‘day of rest’ look like for us today? ¬†Let me offer some suggestions of things I’ve put into practice.

Set your day – Schedule it…plan ahead for success. ¬†Mine works best on Mondays, so I get things done on Sunday. ¬†The things I don’t finish I add to my ‘to do’ list for Tuesday. ¬†The only way to make your Sabbath Day a success is to make it Holy. ¬†We need to treat it like gold! ¬†Otherwise, it becomes just another day.

Communicate – Talk openly about it. ¬†Let your spouse, kids, co-workers, and friends know what your Sabbath Day is. ¬†This is an important piece of training. ¬†Over time, most people will learn to respect this day for you. ¬†The calls, texts, knocks on the door will be greatly reduced. ¬†(wouldn’t that be amazing?)

Dont’ check email – Turn off email alerts on your phone. ¬†Put your laptop away. ¬†You could even set up an ‘out of office’ message every week to explain why you’ll be returning emails the next day in the office.

Screen your calls – Personally, I don’t answer any phone calls on my day of rest (except from family). ¬†If the caller is not already in my contacts so that I can know who’s calling, it goes to voicemail. ¬†Period!

Turn ‘chat’ off on facebook – I have a feeling you know where I’m going with this. ¬†Have you ever been on facebook just catching up with family and friends before going to bed….when someone starts up a ‘live chat’ with you regarding work/ministry? ¬†This is a simple issue of setting good boundaries for yourself.

Leave work at work – This is another type of boundary. ¬†If you know that you lake the level of discipline to completely refrain from getting caught up on your ‘to do’ list at home…leave those things at the office.

Open your Bible РSounds cliche, right!  But this really is part of honoring a Sabbath.  Growing closer to God needs to be a central theme.  And the easiest way to do that is to read His Word.  (studying for your next sermon or Bible study does not count here, btw)

Meditate РNo, not sitting with your legs crossed in an empty room filled with incense.  Think about the things of the Kingdom.  About the character of Jesus.  About the goodness and blessings in your life because of Him.

Now, where have you succeeded or wrestled with implementing a day of rest? ¬†How do you think you could benefit from having a regular day of rest as described above? ¬†And the big question…are you willing to attempt practicing a weekly Sabbath?

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The Dark Side of Ministry

photo by: deathstarpr.blogspot.com

Just before Summer kicked in to full swing, I was able to take a few of my key leaders to the FAM Conference at Azusa Pacific University in CA. ¬†Its a new conference…their first year. ¬†And what an amazing experience it was! ¬†So many great speakers were there, including Doug Fields. ¬†My wife and I were able to sit in his final breakout session. ¬†He started off the hour with this quote:

The dark side of ministry = always more to do.

Wait…there’s a ‘dark side’ to ministry? ¬†(that’s sarcasm) ¬†Ha, ha, ha. ¬†If you’ve been in vocational ministry for even 6 months you probably know what Doug was referencing. ¬†Work, work, work only leads pastors to neglecting their own health, family, and living life to the fullest! ¬†Look, when God commanded mankind to honor a day of rest he didn’t include a special clause that excludes pastors. ¬†We need rest too! ¬†The real question is are you ceasing to work when you must? ¬†Stop! ¬†I can answer that question for you…and I don’t even know you. ¬†If ‘most’ of your weeks in ministry (in and out of the physical office) consist of 50-65 hours, you are slipping to the Dark Side.

Its true, there IS always more to do! ¬†Always one more phone call to make. ¬†That important email can’t wait until morning. ¬†I really need to be the one to visit so-and-so in the hospital. ¬†Etc…..etc……etc. ¬†The examples never end.

The bottom line is this: ¬†There’s no shortage of work for tomorrow, but rest for today is a rare commodity!

I ask you, how can you be proactive to address this and remain healthy enough for God to use you to your fullest ability?