7 Creative Sabbath Ideas For Ministry Leaders

Day_of_restNot taking time apart is like asking for a punch in the face.  You hit a wall. Creativity wanes.  Your spirit dulls.  You come to a place where you are striving to keep successes happening on your own strength.  You wear out your team.  You stop being faithful to your calling.

Adhering a regular Sabbath is not about inspiration, motivation or planning.  It’s about carving out regular time to remind yourself that it’s God who is at work in and through you.  It’s God who has the whole world in His hands.  And there’s nothing more freeing than remembering that His greatest joy is when you are His – apart.  Apart from what you do.  Apart from the roles you play.  Apart from every day stuff.  During a weekly Sabbath, we can rest in this.

We’ve all heard it a million times – make time for Sabbath.  And I’m probably not going to come up with anything new to add to the argument, except that I believe it to be so.

When I move into a groove of regular Sabbath rhythms in my week (month and year) my heart changes.  Often when I read other leaders’ Sabbath practices, I become discouraged.  It seems like they have everything together and carve out time perfectly. I’m still learning, so I hope this post encourages you.  If reordering your Sabbath schedule for the month or year seems overwhelming, just figure out this week.

Here are 7 Creative Sabbath Ideas For Ministry Leaders.  I hope one or more will help you become renewed.

1)  Old Fashioned Day Off  – We all know what these are supposed to be, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen one up close.  Plan one today.  What day will it be for you?  If you have a day job and serve in a paid ministry role, this becomes much more of a challenge, but take what you can get.  Can Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon be a Sabbath time?  Figure out a time to leave the work to God and step aside.  Be in His presence as a child, not as a team member.  Sometimes we need to plan an out of town trip for a Sabbath so that we aren’t tempted to just do a couple little things.

2)  Let Your Phone Die –  Don’t pick a day when your spouse is out of town or something.  But find a good time to fast from your phone (and everything that your phone can do from games to email to facebook).  Everything else during the day may seem totally normal, but not being connected to your phone will provide a sense of freedom to think, pray and respond to God.  This is also a good idea for times when you want to study, prepare or meet with people for intentional strategy, planning and connections.  And this could also apply to computers.  If computers are part of your everyday life work, then make it a point to limit it on your Sabbath days.

3  Take A Trip + One – Will you be attending any seminars or retreats in the next few months?  Plan to take a day before or after to drive slowly, stop somewhere new, visit a place you haven’t before, etc.  Add just one day to your trip and you will have some time for Sabbath.

4)  Adventure, Beauty, Awe, Unknown – What can you do to fulfill one of these four categories?  When was the last time you tried a new place?  A new restaurant, a new destination?  How often do you go on adventures?  Explore.  Trying something you haven’t tried before?  This past summer, we had several Harvest adventures (the ministry I traveled with for two months).  We went to places we had never been.  We served in ministries that we had never heard of.  We talked to people we had never met.  We visited churches and congregations and towns we had not even known existed.  Some of those things turned out to be the highlights.  Awe, beauty, and adventure often increases the impact of Sabbath days.  Find some way to incorporate it.

5)  Family & Friends – We all need some time to interact.  Talking, listening, laughing, playing, enjoying, and a million other things are often heightened when you have others around.  Being mostly extroverted, I’m always pumped when I know that people are going to be coming to our house.  As probably most people do, we spend time in preparation, cleaning and planning.  Those days are always fun for me.  I find that I plan a little harder to get everything to a good stopping point so that I can enjoy the afternoon or evening with friends and family.  Plan something with your family or friends.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.  Ice cream, games, bonfire, or anything to get people together for a while.  The Lord uses conversations and times like these for people to get a glimpse of their own lives as well as those they are close to.

6)  Nature Appreciation 101 – Nature provides great, inexpensive opportunities to realize God’s power and majesty.  It helps us to understand a sense of our small part in the huge vast universe.  And it’s powerful to think that God notices us – even in all of creation.  I had a pilot tell me recently that one of his favorite things to do is look down as he’s approaching the landing to notice all the plots of land, fields, homes and ground.  It gives him a sense of vastness of God and that even this birds eye view of several miles is a microscopic fraction of the whole universe.  Find some time to hike, walk, be outdoors.  Make some time for a simple camping trip if you like that kind of thing.  Go fishing.  Do something outdoors.

7)  Prayer and Reading – These may seem obvious.  But a Sabbath day (or time block) is a perfect time to fill your mind and heart with Godly material from books, Scripture and other means.  I recently found myself on a bus ride with a group.  At one stop, I purchased a book and read the whole thing over the next couple of days.  I was refreshed, energized and ready to go! Often, we think the Sabbath is about prayer and Bible.  Mostly it’s about rest from work.  But, that gives us much needed time to catch up with our souls.  Read what you can on your Sabbath days.


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