A while ago I was asked to be a part of a local pastor's ordination ceremony. As a new pastor myself, this was a first for me and I was excited to be a part of it. That Sunday morning, I took my place on the stage with several other pastors. As the ceremony started, each of us was asked to share an encouragement–some bit of wisdom we had acquired during years of service as a minister. I had no idea they were going to ask me to say anything. I had not prepared for this! I racked my brain to think of something eloquent, something deep, something witty. But my mind was empty and I didn't know what to say. When it was my turn to share the only thing that came out was, “Don't forget to take your day off.” The audience laughed a little while other pastors smiled and nodded their heads.
That was almost 10 years ago and at the time I felt a little stupid. However, since then I've realized that it may be the most important thing I could have said. It is so important to make sure you take a Sabbath day of rest as a minister.It takes practice to ensure that your day off is actually relaxing, refreshing and God-honoring.Click To Tweet
Don't forget, taking a day off and honoring God is one of the 10 commandments. Yes, it's that important. So, here are several pointers to make sure your day off is restful.
Turn Your Phone Off
This is difficult for some people to even comprehend, but if your congregation or ministry team calls and texts you at all hours of the day and night they will most likely call and text you on your day off too. Perhaps you're disciplined enough to ignore those texts and let the calls go to voicemail, but I'm not. I would wonder what they needed and also worry that people felt ignored if I didn't respond back quickly. To avoid that feeling, I just turn the phone off completely and focus on an interruption-free day. Then, when I begin work again the next day I turn my phone back on and receive a flurry of text messages and voicemails. I return each beginning with the following phrase, “I just saw your message, yesterday was my Sabbath so I had my phone turned off…” To date, no one has complained about this but quite the opposite. They are glad to know that their pastor is willing to observe one of the 10 commandments faithfully.
Avoid Social Media & the News
Studies have proven that Facebook is depressing and most other social networks aren't much better. Most of the news is pretty depressing too. I'm not saying that we should ignore the plight of people on social networks and the news completely. I'm just saying that it's not something to focus on during your day off. Perhaps Paul said it best in Philippians, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” So, rather than wake up and update your Facebook status, scroll through Twitter, and see what's happening in Washington, it's much better to wake up and focus on the beauty of nature, or scripture, or just about anything else.
One of the biggest challenges that I have on my day off is eating good, healthy meals. In the past, when I was less intentional about taking a good Sabbath, I would wake up late, eat whatever I could find, and spend the day lolling around with no purpose. Once I began to realize the purpose of Sabbath, to recharge and refill my tank spiritually, emotionally, and physically, I take the time to prepare good and healthy meals that make me feel better and prepare me for a week of hard work taking care of other people.
Take A Nap
My wife always says “catching up on sleep is a myth.” Perhaps she's right even though I hope it's possible. On my day off I really enjoy a good nap. I enjoy a good nap on other days too! But, while the regular challenges of day-to-day life in ministry rarely affords you the chance to catch a few extra moments of sleep, a day off is a perfect excuse to sleep in the middle of the day.
Do The Opposite of Your Work
Some people really don't like to do “nothing” all day. It's difficult for them to envision the idea of “sitting around” or “relaxing” by doing nothing. For some, it's important to keep moving. If that is true of you I suggest that you see your Sabbath as a way of doing something that is not associated with the work that you normally do. I think this is the spirit of the 4th commandment anyway. As a pastor, I spend most of my week talking with people, listening to their struggles, and offering encouragement and prayer. So on my day off I try to do the opposite. I work on my cars, or I write (it's my day off today) or I golf. Sure, it's activity, but it's different than what I do most of the week. It recharges me.
No matter what you choose to do on your day off, I encourage you to follow the fourth commandment to the best of your ability. We need good people in ministry to be recharged and refreshed each week in order to face the challenges of working with people.