Galvin and Associates

Why Taking a Day of Rest is Difficult



I’ve talked with several pastors recently who have admitted that they have not taken a day off in years. (I know…shocking!) In many ways, it is more difficult for a pastor to set aside a day of rest than most people. They work on Sundays, so that day is out. Unless they always finish their sermons on time, Saturday is out. Even if they find a weekday to stay out of the office, emergencies come up with little notice. The rest of us tend to have it easier.

Observing a Sabbath day of rest is one of the Ten Commandments. Accordingly, it was not given only for the Jews, but for all people. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for our benefit. It is a day when God says, “Come and hang out with me.” If we don’t stop working, we obviously can’t do that very easily.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study (reported in Christianity Today, June 2016), observing the Sabbath did not score highly. Here are the percentages of respondents who said that resting on the Sabbath was important:

  • 31% Highly Religious Evangelicals
  • 20% Highly Religious Catholics
  • 18% Highly Religious Mainline Protestants
  • 18% All Christians
  • 11% Nominal Evangelicals

In other words, 4 out of 5 Christians say resting on the Sabbath is not important.
In some ways, keeping the Sabbath is more difficult now than at any time in our lifetime. Here is why.

24/7 culture: We live in an “always on” society. Stores used to be closed on Sundays; now most are open. More people work weekend shifts. The culture doesn’t want to let us take a break.

Overloaded lives: Most of us are just plain too busy. We take on too many commitments and seldom take time to evaluate our commitments.

Invasive technology: The powerful pocket computers we call cell phones are keeping us connected with people and information, but it is difficult to turn it off for a day.

Pressure from others: Because most people do not think a Sabbath day of rest is important, our friends ask us to engage in unrestful activities.

Lack of teaching: Pastors tend not to teach about the Sabbath. It is highly counter-cultural. Some pastors want to avoid coming across as legalistic.

Doesn’t a day of rest each week sound appealing? Without getting legalistic, you can figure out your own day of rest. However, you have to be intentional. Here are some actions you can experiment with immediately:

  • You pretty much have to stop working for one day, sorry
  • Turn off your cell phone
  • Turn off the television and radio
  • Some special time with family and friends
  • Get out and experience nature
  • Read some books for pleasure

What are some simple changes you can implement that will make a day of rest more realistic and beneficial for you?

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