What Pastors Need to Know About the Sabbath

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"You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you must rest. Even at the time of plowing and harvest, you must rest" (Ex. 34:21).

The Bible is filled with instructions about rest and recreation. In fact, it's so important that God put it in the Ten Commandments—right up there with "Don't commit adultery" and "Don't murder." He says that every seventh day, you have to take a day off. That's how important a Sabbath is in your life.

Jesus said in Mark 2:27, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." In other words, God created this idea of you taking a day off every seven days for rest, recreation, worship and restoration. It's His idea, and it's for your own benefit so you don't burn out.

Yet in our modern society, people aren't doing that. Even on their day off, they're working. And even those who attend a church service go home afterward and go right back to work, trying to get all the stuff done that they didn't get accomplished during their workweek. That's not a Sabbath!

This is what it means to have a Sabbath: "You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you must rest. Even at the time of plowing and harvest you must rest" (Ex. 34:21).

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Even in your busiest season, there is no excuse not to rest. You may be a tax accountant, but you still have to take a day off in April. You may work in retail, but you still have to take a day off during the Christmas season. Even a farmer must take a day off in harvest or planting season.

What are you supposed to do on your Sabbath?

  • Rest your body. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to take a nap.
  • Refocus your spirit. That means you worship.
  • Recharge your emotions. Do something that restores and re-energizes you, like a hobby or a sport.

It doesn't really matter which day is your Sabbath. It does matter that you are obedient. You may not rest when your spouse tells you to or even when your boss tells you to take a break. But you must rest because God commands it—and so you can give Him your best.

Talk It Over
  • What kind of difference does it make in your day when you get a full night's rest compared to when you don't get enough sleep?
  • What activities or responsibilities keep you from resting well?
  • How can you change the way you do your Sabbath so that you are honoring God with your rest?

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.

This article originally appeared at pastorrick.com.

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