Following the sixth day of creation, the Lord God deliberately stopped working.
It wasn’t that there was nothing else He could have done. It certainly wasn’t because He was exhausted. He hadn’t run out of ideas or energy. He could easily have made more worlds, created an infinite number of other forms of life, and provided multiple millions more galaxies beyond what He did.
But He didn’t. He stopped. He spent an entire day resting. He marked off this one day as special. Like none other. If I read this correctly, it seems that He made the day on which He rested a “priority” period of time.
I’m of the belief that we’re no longer bound by the Sabbath command (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16). But I don’t believe we can sidestep the principle to set aside a regular time of rest.
That includes us pastors. We need to stop regularly—and not because we’re done working. If we intend to “be imitators of God,” as Ephesians 5:1 commands, we, too, will need to make rest a priority. As pastors, this includes:
- A good night’s rest on a regular basis
- A full day’s rest at least once a week (no, I’m not kidding)
- Moments of rest snatched here and there during the week
- Vacation times of rest for the refreshment and repair of both body and soul
These methods of getting rest help release us from the fierce grip of intense stress brought on by the daily grind.
I had a staff member one time in a former church who rarely took a day off. I remember driving by the church on a Monday evening, and I saw his office light on. When I got there Tuesday morning the light was still on! I marched into his office and asked, “When’s the last time you took a day off?” He seemed proud of his answer, “It’s been about three weeks.” So I said, “That’s unacceptable. You keep that up, and I’ll let you go.” You know what? Amazingly, he started taking his day off!
There is no value in not taking a day off. My former mentor, the late Dr. Howard Hendricks, had one wag tell him, “The devil never takes a holiday, so why should I?” Hendricks didn’t miss a beat and replied: “Oh really? I didn’t know he was your model.” I love it! There’s an old line that goes, “I’d rather burn out than rust out.” What kind of choice is that? Either way you’re “out”!
Let me urge you to change your routine, my friend. Blow the dust of boredom off your schedule. Shake yourself loose, and get a taste of fresh life. Need several suggestions for rest and leisure?
- Begin jogging and/or a full-on exercise program.
- Read some fiction for a change . . . or a great biography.
- Get some music for your MP3 player, and lie on your back, drinking in the sounds.
- Dig and plant a small garden, and watch God cooperate with your efforts.
- Start watching a few sunrises and sunsets each month.
I’m not just writing about resting. In fact, I’m taking the next few weeks of vacation to practice what I preach.