A Sabbath How-To (Corporate & Personal)
Sabbath must be a concentrated time where we disconnect to connect with the deep things of God. It must be ordered and focused. It is the priority in our lives not an afterthought.
As a long-time officer who has served in just about every area one could serve in, I ask the question, “Where will the hours come from to make this happen?” I believe our system will eat away at Sabbath if we do not place safeguards in our lives. I suggest trying these on an individual basis and as an organization.
I believe our system will eat away at Sabbath if we do not place safeguards in our lives.
First, disconnect. I know this is easier said than done. Take a day and turn off the computer. Put your cell phone away and wait until the end of the day to check it. Don’t answer email. Simply check to see if there are any really urgent messages. Concentrate on resting and scripture. Make deep connection with God and make those you love your first priority. If you are a married couple, protect that time and each other fiercely. We are not superhuman. We do, however, serve a supernatural God who will help us order priorities.
Secondly, as a movement, leaders must not only encourage, but applaud and enable officers and leaders to observe regular Sabbath by modeling it themselves. For me, if I am preaching, Sunday is not my Sabbath. Especially in my last appointment (a marvelous place) the intense preparation and delivery necessary took a toll on me. I was often more exhausted by preaching and living through the activities on Sundays than I am after a really hard work out. A day other than Sunday when you are preaching and actively engaged in ministry toward others would be best for you to Sabbath. However, we must not be legalistic about this. Some find the greatest Sabbath rest in the preparation and delivery of a sermon that helps make disciples.
Lastly, we must narrow down mandatory events for officers. In one appointment, I counted eleven weekends out of twenty and five straight weekends where officers were required by the division or territory to be at a mandatory event. Granted, not both my wife and I were required at every event, but for our single officers in the division there was no reprieve. This also cut into regular family time for officers who were married and had children. I saw firsthand the toll it took on families.
Instead, I propose that command leaders find ways of giving people permission, (even if it means making it mandatory) to take weekly time to themselves for spiritual development and physical recuperation from the everyday where they can find menuha. Those in executive leadership would do well to remember we are also responsible, according to the last part of the commandment, for those under our influence. “10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.” Exodus 20:10 NIV. We become guilty of causing burnout, stress and angst if we do not take a protective and proactive stance for the souls of those under our care. In leadership, we must resist our habit of urgent communications and prioritize what is truly important. This does not mean we cannot have expectations, but they must be realistic not burdensome. I need to begin to understand in greater measure the complexities of life for those under my sphere of influence.
Real holiness, peace, serenity and grace are not found in multitasking but leaning into God in an undistracted time of rest and ceasing from the everyday.
The resistance to connectivity on a regular basis must become a reality so that the people of God can connect with the menuha of God. Real holiness, peace, serenity and grace are not found in multitasking but leaning into God in an undistracted time of rest and ceasing from the everyday. Only then will we be following the pattern established, commanded and modeled by the Almighty.
Written by Major Larry Ashcraft, Divisional Commander, Southwest Ohio & Northeast Kentucky