Pastors, and leaders for that matter, are not always that good at resting. As those adopted by God we should begin to reflect our Father in many ways: love, compassion, generosity, justice, and rest. Our Father rests.
The ‘rest’ conversation is usually built around our need to rest. It’s true; we were created with a need for rest. However, I believe there is something greater at stake than just our need for rest. When we rest we reflect God and we say something about God.
What is biblical rest?
Mark Buchannan in his book, The Rest of God, points out that at first glance Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15 look like identical twins. However, as you take a closer look you find God’s teaching us something very important by changing just a few words.
Exodus 20:8-11 tells us to rest because, well, God rests and we should reflect Him. This is a call to look up, enjoy God, and stop trying to be God.
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 tells us to rest because, well, you can. Once you were slaves and you had no choice but to work. Pharaoh had great ambitions and you were to fulfill them. A choice was not present: you needed to work, then work some more, then work harder. Then God stepped in on your behalf. So, in this account, rest was about looking back.
When we fail to rest, we are striving to be God; we show that we don’t trust Him, that we’re abusing our bodies, and that we’re trading in our freedom for slavery. This is the very slavery from which we have already been redeemed.
Is there a "best" day?
There is much conversation in the church leadership world around which days do you take off. Friday? Monday? Is half of Sunday enough?
I am in no way shape or form saying that what I do is best practice, but here is why I take Monday’s off.
Two of my three children are in school on Monday. This gives me a chance to really rest. No birthday parties, no soccer, no baseball, and a big one for me if I’m honest, very little interaction with people. That might not sound very pastoral, but for my personality it’s completely necessary. I get to be with my wife and enjoy quality time with her. I really get to rest.
But there is something else it forces me to do: trust God. There is always follow up and adjustments to make after our Sunday gatherings. My tendency is to want to immediately go back to work and schedule coffee and lunch with new people and leaders in the church. I want to fix things and update stuff. I want to work!
When God commanded a Sabbath he said from sun down to sun down, I want you to rest. What do we do at sun down? We go to sleep. Sabbath begins with sleep. In fact, every day, according to God, begins with sleep. We rest, we wake up, we enter into a world that God has already been working in. That’s exciting in many ways, but it’s also very humbling. This thing happens without you.
For me, Mondays are like that. I’ve tried to discipline myself to rest on a day that beckons me to work. I want to hear God’s voice, not the voice of the urgent. It forces me to trust in a sovereign God.
Now, I know that might not be the day you prefer. Again, this is not a best practice issue. However, it is a heart issue. Are you able to rest? The Israelites were to be known among the nations as a people who rest. While others worked seven days, they worked 6. While the nations scrambled to provide for themselves and make a name for themselves, the Israelites stopped, remembered God and His provision. What does the world see when they look at your work schedule?