Do you feel like you meet yourself coming and going? Is your month packed with weeknight obligations and overstuffed weekends that leave you exhausted instead of fulfilled? Ever feel so busy pouring into others that you don’t have time to recover, much less replenish or develop yourself?
My sinful pride has always been fed on my aspirations to do a little more, a little better, than others around me. You’ve got a challenge? I’ll take it on. A new initiative needs leadership? Bring it. My performance-driven desire for approval always told me if I worked harder, faster, and smarter, then I would be successful. (These are obviously part of the “dark side” of my leadership. Not pretty.)
Almost four years ago, after living this way for a long time, I hit a wall. A wall that felt as thick and strong as the brick walls of my home. And instead of bouncing back, or looking for a way to climb it or go around it, I crumbled. I had experienced the two most demanding years of my professional life. I had pushed through, pressed on, given it more of me until there literally wasn’t anything left. The relentless pace and lack of margin had left me dry: relationally, spiritually, and emotionally.
My leadership was less at a time when I felt I was giving it more.
The remedy for this kind of exhaustion and depletion is not escaping to a beach somewhere for a week. (Although it doesn’t hurt!) I often look to a quick fix like taking a day off or squeezing in a massage to give me a little boost so I can jump back in and keep running. But this is short-term thinking.
Unhealthy pace can only be resolved through on-going, life-giving rhythms of work and rest. And one of the simplest and yet most difficult rhythms to implement is Sabbath.
Here are three things you can do NOW to embrace Sabbath:
1. Reserve: Set aside a weekly, 24 hour period, where you are not laboring and adding to creation, but delighting in your Creator. (It doesn’t have to be Sunday by the way.) While you are at your calendar, consider blocking out a day or weekend every few months for an additional season of Sabbath.
2. Reflect: In what environments and through what spiritual practices have you most often experienced God’s closeness? What activities bring you great joy? Reintroduce one of those environments or activities into your Sabbath this week.
3. Read: Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner and Sabbath by Dan Allender deeply affected by outlook on what Sabbath could look like. Read another’s experience with this rhythm and see what it sparks in you.
I don’t just want us to slow down or avoid burnout. My true desire for leaders like you and me is that we would abandon the unhealthy pace and lean into God’s life-giving way of life and leadership.
What will you do this week to embrace Sabbath?