In Search of Sabbath: It's not all about you

If the last few posts haven’t convinced you to start some Sabbath rhythms in your life, I hope this one will. Because your Sabbath rest is not all about you. If you refuse to rest, you may be refusing others their rest. In this post I talked about how Sabbath isn’t given to us by God as a restricting command, but as a gift from the one who knows us best saying, you need to get some rest! He also wanted the Israelites to keep the Sabbath because when they honored this rest, it gave rest to the people who were dependent on or worked for them. And it didn’t stop there. It gave their animals rest, and even the land.

In our culture there is a chain of rest restrictions we place on one another. It feels impossible to take a break because it could set off a negative reaction affecting those who rely upon us or on whom we rely. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. The truth is, your choosing to rest could have a domino affect that, rather than bringing disaster, releases you and those around you from the burnout that defines our culture. We influence people by giving them rest and by teaching them to give us rest. It just takes one domino to start the reaction, let’s do it!

How to teach others to give you rest:

The unfortunate reality is we have to teach people how to give us rest. And the way to do that is by rhythm. Decide when/where you would like to protect your rest, and begin a rhythm to teach people about those boundaries. You will get push back at first, but after a while, the people from whom you need rest often become the ones who become your rest protectors.

  • Texts/emails. If you tell yourself that you have to check your phone after every notification because people need quick responses, that’s a lie. There may be one or two urgent messages a year that truly need immediate response (depending on your line of work), but what is the cost of interrupting your day 30 times because you treat every notification as one of the urgent? If you think people need an immediate response from you, it’s because you’ve trained them to expect that. Which means you can untrain them. Start by choosing a weekly time that you are unreachable electronically. It could be one day, one evening, or one hour. People may get frustrated, but they’ll soon learn to respect your time and even protect it from others. The important thing isn’t as much the weekly time off, but the fact that you have trained others how to give you time off when you need it. So when you have a busy season and truly need a vacation, your people know how to give it to you.

    • Put your electronics to work with this one. First, turn off all of your notifications. You don’t need a ding every time you get an email or someone posts on your FB page. Second, set up automatic replies, such as an email that says you won’t be checking email that day or a text that says you don’t receive texts while driving. By setting this up once you can continually send a message to people that your schedule isn’t dictated by outside influence. You control your time and energy. And it sends them the message that maybe they can to.

  • Invitations/commitments. It’s hard to say no. And saying you need rest or time with your family, unfortunately, doesn’t always feel like a good excuse. So you say yes, sacrificing to guilt the rest or family time you need. But if you’re used to saying no and your friends are used to hearing it, it makes it easy. What needs the most protection in your life right now? Is it a date night, family time, or personal rest? Choose one and start a weekly rhythm of protection. Whether it’s a date night every Thursday night, Family day every Friday, or your personal Sabbath every Tuesday morning, guard that time. When people try to set up appointments during those sacred times, you say no, that’s my family day. Again, you’ll be surprised how quickly people start protecting that time for you. And, more importantly, when life throws wrenches at you and you need extra rest or time with your family, your people know how to give it to you.

  • Kids. Start implementing 10 minutes a day of rest time with specific instructions of what is allowed and what is not. Just make sure one of the rules gives you alone time. If you have little kids you’ll need to take advantage of naptime or an older sibling who can watch them. When you have one of those days when extra rest is needed, you can tell the kids you’re taking a short rest time, and they know what to do! It also helps remove the responsibility they may feel in causing your crankiness, because rest time is a normal thing, not something associated with your times of stress/frustration.

How to give others rest:

Is there anyone who does not get their needed rest because you refuse to take yours? Think about the people around you, starting with those closest to you. Your spouse, kids, extended family, friends, coworkers, boss, employers, etc. Do your late nights affect your family? Does your habit of working over the weekend mean your coworkers have to work too? You may think there’s little you can do to influence someone else’s rest, but I disagree. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Set boundaries on your work time: I won’t work past 5pm, or I won’t work on Saturday. You can even put your lights on a timer to help you follow through.

  • Don’t participate in Black Friday, or at least the deals that start on Thursday evening. Let those workers enjoy the holiday.

  • Don’t go to stores or get coffee on Christmas Day. If enough of us stop, those minimum wage Starbuck’s employees can have Christmas with family or friends.

  • If you are a parent, take one thing out of your kid’s schedule. Rest and freeplay is more important to them than soccer, gymnastics, or piano.

  • Petition for longer maternity/paternity leave within your company.

  • If you are in any sphere of leadership, whether a parent, employer, coach, politician, or pastor, use your position to bless those you can, be it one person or an entire nation (thanks President Cleveland for Labor Day!!). Increase paid time off for your employees or an opportunity for sabbatical. Give longer maternity leave. Turn off the internet in your building at 5pm. Schedule less practice/games. Don’t schedule tournaments over the holidays. Change your store hours. Close your restaurant one day a week.

You may know that we use the summers to rest from our regular Missio Community rhythm, but did you know that as a church we intentionally take two Sundays off during the year to give our pastors, leaders, and volunteers a rest (as well as the opportunity for you to worship in your homes or with other churches)? What can you do to join us in this movement of rest?

Laura KingSabbath