Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gratituesday - Sabbath

If you, like me are in any form of ministry, you know that the Sabbath is a day that is to be set aside as holy.

Maybe, though, you're like me in another way and wonder a bit about this.

Those of us in full-time ministry as staff work on Sunday. It's just part of the deal.

We also tend to be workaholoics. Ministry work is not 9-5 no matter how hard you try to make it fit in a time frame. Ministry = people and people will need you (and rightly so) at times that are outside of your ministry calendar blocks.

So, how do you do it? How do you work faithfully in your ministry to a degree that allows you to put your head on your pillow at night and know that you've given it 100%? But also how do you find a Sabbath in which you can regularly, and frequently (every 7 days) rest.

I don't have the answers. I am very much wrestling with these questions in my life and ministry. Here are some thoughts that I've had in my wrestlings:

1. Truly resting my mind from my ministry and work responsibilities is one of the best things I can do to improve myself for and in my work. When I go non-stop my brain becomes a tangled mess and I'm not nearly as efficient or productive as I can be. When I come at my work rested I have more optimism, more ideas, more grace, more direction, more clarity and more love. But it's easy to forget how much this benefits my work.

2. Someone recently gave me some advice that was given to him. One day you will leave your church and you will leave it with only two things: your relationship with God and your relationship with your spouse. This was a powerful thought. It motivated me to want to invest wisely. If these are the things that remain then I want to pour into them in a huge way. So I'm working hard to be present - really fully present - when I'm spending time with God and with my husband.

3. Turning my ministry/work brain off is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I've learned that there are things I can do to help me leave work at work. I have times in my day and week that I ignore my phone and laptop altogether. They're always on. They're always near by. But there are times I just tuck them away and forget them for a few hours. If there is an emergency, someone will find me. If not, I can return the call, email, tweet or comment later.

4. I've also learned that as music can be a great tool to help me focus on God or communicate a truth in a service, it can also be a great tool to remind me how much I love my family. On my drive home if you were listening in, you'd hear the songs that I love that remind me of my husband and my children. This almost always makes me want to get home faster and has a smile on my face as I walk in the door.

There is some interesting food for thought along these lines in Anne Jackson's book Mad Church Disease. If you haven't read it yet, it's a good place to start.

Recognizing the Sabbath, in all honesty, is one I get wrong more often than I get it right. But, I can tell you that when I've gotten it right I know to the core of my being why God put it in the top 5 of the Big 10.

When I get it right I am truly grateful for a God who knows my needs way better than I know my own.

So, when is your Sabbath? When was the last time you really rested?

[image by fusiasa]

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