Not taking time apart in Sabbath is asking for trouble. You hit a wall. Creativity wanes. Your spirit dulls. You come to a place where you are striving to make success happen on your own strength. You wear out your team. You stop being faithful to your calling.
Adhering to a regular Sabbath is not about inspiration, motivation, or planning. It’s about carving out regular time to remind yourself that God is working in and through you – the same God who has the whole world in His hands. Nothing is more freeing than remembering His greatest joy is when you are His – apart. Apart from what you do. Apart from the roles you play. Apart from everyday stuff. During a weekly Sabbath, we can rest in this.
We’ve all heard it a million times: Make time for Sabbath. I don’t have anything new to add to the argument, except that I believe it to be so. My heart changes when I move into a groove of regular Sabbath rhythms in my weeks, months, and years.
I often become discouraged when I read other leaders’ Sabbath practices. They seem to 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, focus on figuring out this week.
Here are 7 creative sabbath ideas for ministry leaders and others. I hope one or more will help renew you.
Take an Old Fashioned Day Off
Has it been a while since you’ve taken a day off? Plan one today. If you have a day job and serve in a paid ministry role, this is 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 his child, not as a team member. If necessary, plan an out-of-town trip for your Sabbath so you aren’t tempted to do those couple little things.
Set Aside Your Devices
Find a good time to fast from your phone (not a day when your spouse is out of town). This includes everything your phone can do from games to email to Facebook. If computers are part of your everyday life work, make it a point to also limit computer use.
While everything else during the day may seem totally normal, not being connected to your phone and computer 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 connection.
Add A Day To A Conference Or Meeting
Will you be attending a seminar or retreat 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 one day to your trip and you will have time for Sabbath.
What can you do for an adventure? When was the last time you tried a new place, a new restaurant, or a new destination? How often do you go on adventures, explore, or try things you haven’t tried before?
This past summer, we had several adventures with Harvest (the ministry I traveled with for two months). We went to places we had never been. We served in ministries we had never heard of. We talked to people we had never met. We visited churches, congregations, and towns we had not even known existed. Some turned out to be our highlights. Adventure often increases the impact of Sabbath days by bringing beauty and awe into our lives. Find ways to incorporate adventure.
Interact with Friends and Family
We all need time to interact with others. Talking, listening, laughing, playing, enjoying, and a million other things are often heightened when others are around.
Being mostly extroverted, I’m always pumped when I know that people are coming to our house. We spend time planning, preparing, and cleaning. 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, a bonfire, or anything to get people together for a while will do. The Lord uses conversations and times like these for people to get a glimpse of their own lives as well as the lives of others.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE #103
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. It’s powerful to remember that God notices us, even in all of creation.
A pilot recently told me that likes to look down as he’s approaching the landing to notice all the plots of land, fields, homes, and the ground. It gives him a sense of the vastness of God as he considers that his bird’s eye view of several miles is a microscopic fraction of the whole universe.
Find time to hike, walk, or simply be outdoors. Make time for a simple camping trip, fishing expedition, or whatever you enjoy doing outdoors.
Pray and Read
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 the Bible. Mostly it’s about rest from work which gives us much-needed time to catch up with our souls. Read what you can on your Sabbath days.