May 27, 2020

One of the things that many pastors are seeing and experiencing is fatigue, something that most church leaders experience way too often.  The Sabbath rest (one of the ten commandments and the oldest commandment), is the time away to recover, recoup, and prepare, which was something Jesus did often, and He is the Son of God.  This Sabbath idea is ingrained in creation itself, seasons, night and day, even the cycles of the physical nature itself.

It took me years to even begin to understand this personally.  I was one of those who felt guilty if I wasn’t doing something productive.  I also had difficulty leaving things undone, had the curse/gift of dreaming up new things I thought would be great, and wasn’t good at a schedule that guided the week.

Then I learned something important -- if I wasn’t 100% because I was tired, my brain was a little fried, my soul wasn’t what it should be, then I was stealing. 

I was:

  • Robbing my wife and family of 100% of me.
  • Robbing my church of the best sermon I could preach.
  • Robbing the family, church, community, and denomination of my best decision-making ability and the gifts God gives to each of us as he wills.
  • Robbing times and places where I was really needed because I had spent my energy on too many things that weren’t that important, or what somebody else could and should be doing.
  • Robbing God of the fellowship He desires from me because I did not have time or energy to spend in worship, devotionals, prayer, and just time.
  • Robbing everyone and even myself because I could not be 100% present in relationships and the moments when the church and community needed serious leadership.
  • Robbing the future of creativity, innovation, and envisioning that God had called me to do.

Good grief, for many years I went into the office on Saturday, and felt like I had to be the first person in the office every morning, how dumb was I.  Taking a day to work at home was not something I even considered --- 100% of me given to a few important things was far better than 50% of me (if it was that high) given to everything.I learned and I am continuing to relearn, especially in the added stresses and demands of the COVID-19 season when it is even more important to honor the Sabbath command, that place where balance is found, between me and God, God is God and I am not.  Between me and myself, I am loaded with limitations, boundaries, and thorns, God’s grace is sufficient, between me and the life God has called me to live, one where I love God with 100% of me and love the neighbor God has given me to serve with 100% of me.

I am still working on it, because its hard work to rest the soul, the body, and the mind in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, but the situations and demands of this season of adaption and survival demand that we Sabbath well.

Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director

Center for Evangelism, Mission & Church Growth