Overworked and Under-rested?
I cannot believe how hot it is outside. The high today in St. Louis is 107 degrees. Although I may not be so grateful when it’s time to pay the electric bill at the end of the month, on days like this I am grateful for the invention of air conditioning. And even though I have avoided being in today’s heat, I can tell how incredibly hot it is outside because the air conditioner in my house has not stopped running all day. After thinking about how overworked my air conditioner has run today, I was reminded of an incredible principle that prevents us from overworking: The Sabbath.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” -Genesis 2:2-3
You and I are not machines. We were never meant to run constantly. We need consistent patterns of to take a break, recharge, and refresh. (Click to Tweet) That is the pattern that God set for us in creation. That is the pattern that He commanded the Israelites to follow as one of the Ten Commandments:
We need a break in the regular rhythm of life. Without a break you will burn out. But it’s not always easy to simply stop what you’re doing, walk away from your work for a day or two. I’ve found that if I don’t plan ahead, I may be robbed of my Sabbath. So here are three ways I regularly prepare for my weekly Sabbaths:
1. Write Down Your Plan
When I begin my week on Monday, I begin mapping where I want this week to go. It’s important to “begin with the end in mind”. If I don’t see at the beginning of my week that I will end with a break, then anything can rob me of that break. Planning ahead creates a sort of urgency that prevents procrastination. I know that everything will not necessarily go according to plan; however, this plan will provide a sort of map that will allow me to ultimately reach my destination.
So begin your week writing out a few planned goals for your week. This does not have to be a detailed to-do list. Just a few general guidelines for the general direction for your week.
And at the end of your plan, write down your break. Schedule it. There is power in scheduling your break. It not only holds you accountable; but, it will also empower you to say “No, I already have something scheduled on that day.”
2. Create Personal Deadlines.
As a Pastor I have learned the very rude lesson that Sunday comes every week without exception. Therefore, I better be ready to preach when Sunday comes. Enjoying my Sabbath on Saturday is not a legitimate excuse for not being prepared on Sunday. Therefore, I have learned to create personal deadlines earlier in the week that forces me to complete the goals in my plan sooner.
For example, I typically take Friday and Saturday as my days off. I use one as a family day to do whatever my family wants to do. And the other is my Sabbath – my personal day for rest and refreshment. In order to protect these days from being used as last minute sermon preparation, I have created a personal deadline to have my sermon finished by noon Wednesday. My goal is actually to have a completed rough draft ready to send to my Worship Minister by Tuesday evening.
What would “creating personal deadlines” look like in your line of work? Personally I would rather work late Thursday night than have to come in to the office on Friday. Your week may be the traditional Monday thru Friday with the weekend off. Maybe you have a varying work schedule with your days off changing. Whenever your day off comes, protect it by getting your most important work accomplished before it’s time to take a break.
3. Make it Holy.
The Bible commands us to “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it…HOLY.” Sabbath is a Hebrew word that literally means to “REST“. Rest is not just a physical activity. Rest is a spiritual event. You not only need rest to recharge your body and your mind. You also need rest to refresh your soul.
Some spiritual refreshers to include on your Sabbath may be worship, reading the Bible, extended time in prayer, fasting, or fellowship with other believers. After your Sabbath, you should not only be physically ready to go back to work, but you should feel spiritually ready as well.
This is how I regularly prepare and protect my Sabbath. I’d love to learn how you prepare for your Sabbath or maybe how you will try out one of the suggestions I’ve shared. Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment!