Working One Hour a Week (Part Three)

Previously, I wrote about serving as theologian in residence, and in providing and equipping for pastoral care. Today, I’d like to briefly write about Sabbath.

My intentional days off are Friday and Saturday. Because people do not work on Saturdays, they are sometimes the best time to meet or gather. Because the Holy Spirit will not be contained to particular hours for inspiration and transformation, sermons are sometimes written or edited or tossed out and restarted on Saturdays. Saturdays are a bonus, is what I think I’m trying to say. So my day of rest, my Sabbath, is Friday.

And I am strict with it. I answer my phone only for emergencies, I do not check or respond to e-mail. I do not work if I can help it–even if the sermon’s not done or a class is not prepped or if there’s a thousand things to do, and it’s for one simple reason:

There will always be more to do in ministry.

I know one person–one–who has suggested he’s ever just been done with his task list for the day. And he was an Associate Minister who later had his job expanded. Every other pastor I know can work eighty hours a week, every week, if they choose to. And plenty of them do. And I used to, and then I realized my boundaries were breachable, my rest was raucous, and I was not setting a good example.

God rests on the seventh day. Not for a few hours each day. Not half a day here and there. Not a month after nearly having a nervous breakdown. One day of rest, each week. The pyramids will still get built, the weeds will still be there to be pulled, the world will still run and devour everything we throw at it. We each can take a day.

(I recognize some folks cannot; they must work too much to scratch by. I want to be a better advocate for them, and lead people in serving their needs. Thus, Sabbath.)

Does taking a strong day off influence the congregation? Perhaps. Leading by example and not decree takes time; developing a rhythm, and then examining it in community, is a process.

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