Sabbath is Fundamental

This post is part of our 10 Leadership Principles series. Here, you can find more information on the series and catch up on previous posts.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, Sabbath is the day Christians and Jews consider the day of rest. It is practiced on the seventh day of the week and finds its roots in the creation story.

“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” Gen 2:1-3” (ESV).

Sabbath is a day of rest where we are called to focus on who God is and what he has done for us. God calls everyone to practice taking a sabbath rest, but for those with primary leadership responsibilities, I think the sabbath is fundamental to your survival. I discovered this over a few years by interacting with a book and a podcast on my commute to work each day.

Using guests and research, Manoush explains the physical things that happen to our bodies, specifically our brains. She makes the case that when we are unplugged from the world/noise around us, we become bored. In that boredom, our bodies have time to refocus and recalibrate. The result is brilliance.

When I hear her talk about it on the podcast or when I read her book, I realize she was primarily talking about the sabbath and the power of practicing the sabbath. Every time she uses the word “boredom,” my brain pops in the word “sabbath,” and it’s like it all came alive in a new way. I found it reinforced the fact that a designer created us and that God knew what He was doing when He told us to REST. Manoush misses or doesn’t connect the dots to what’s going on spiritually, but in reality, she is making a case for taking a sabbath rest, and it’s powerful.

It is here where everything started to come together.

Manoush talked about the chemistry and biology of the brain when we rest, but I added the fact that God is our designer and that chemistry and biology was placed there by design. God has hardwired our bodies to reset and process when we rest. Then He went even further and modelled rest when He created the world and took a sabbath on the seventh day.

The God of the universe, who put the stars in place and crafted us in our mother’s wombs, believes rest is at the core of who we are. But the question you might be asking is probably similar to the question I was asking… why?

When I think of being a primary leader, I often think of what we have discussed in these blogs. As leaders, we are expected to…

  • always have a plan
  • achieve goals
  • always be communicating
  • meet others’ expectations
  • dream big dreams
  • understand your limitations
  • be in community
  • know those around you
  • know ourselves

These are great things to strive for as a  leader, but if we are honest, it’s exhausting. Sometimes we feel we need to carry the world’s weight on our shoulders. We need to always be “on” because if we don’t, who will do the work? Our world is exhausted, and everyone seems to think that if we somehow work harder, more often and increase our productivity, we will find rest, but that, my friends, is a lie.

Whenever I talk to someone in a primary leadership position, and they start talking about how exhausted they are (when they are being honest), I think of Manoush’s book and how we are hardwired to rest. That we can actually succeed and produce more when we take time to be “bored.” These leaders always tell me they can “stop” or are “too busy to rest.” But all of that is a lie; the truth is that they are unwilling to trust.

  • Trust that the work can wait
  • Trust someone else to do the job
  • Trust that the world isn’t going to end
  • Trust that who they are is not what they do

The truth is simple if you want to be a primary leader that actually impacts the world around you, then you cannot afford not to take a sabbath. It is fundamental to your survival as a leader and the only solution to your exhaustion. You cannot work your way to rest… all you can do is STOP and SIT in and be the PRESENCE of God.

But stopping and resting is easier said than done; I know because I’m still trying to figure some of this out in my own life. What I do know is that the act of stopping can be like training a new muscle. It will hurt at first, and each time you flex it, you might not see anything at first, but over time you will begin to see definition and impact.

I want to end this blog different from all the rest. I usually give you some questions to consider and some kind of activity. This time I just want to give you a simple challenge. This week I want you to take a sabbath rest and become bored in Jesus.

Maybe you can’t take a day off; maybe you just have part of a day or just an hour during your commute. Regardless of your time, I just want you to turn off the noise of the world, put your phone away, shut your laptop down and do something that brings you joy. Open up God’s word or just be in silence for a bit. It might seem awkward initially, but embrace it and see where it goes. Then I want you to try it again next week and the week after that… my guess is that it will get easier over time.

This is my prayer for you todayMay the God of the universe who put the stars in place meet you where ever you are. May the day’s worries melt away and be replaced by a sense of peace that passes all understanding. God, would you meet them in their joys and sorrows, in the fun times and the times of hard work? Would you empower them with passion and vision for the people, ministries or organizations they lead? Above all things, God will lead them to a place where their trust in you is at the core of who they are and where they will never forget that nothing in all of creation can separate them from your love. Bless them on their journey and keep them safe… Amen

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