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Happy Mid-Year!

02 Jan Sabbath, Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Happy Mid-Year!
Happy Mid-Year!
 

If you’re like most youth pastors,
January doesn’t exactly feel like the start of a New Year.

It feels more like a Wednesday.

For many of us, its only the midway point of a long push through the academic year with our students. By now your ministry has likely experienced a number of successes and failures, highlights and low points, and if you’re anything like me, there’s probably more than a few nagging things still on your “To Do” List.

All of this adds up to one thing… feeling tired – physically, emotionally, perhaps even spiritually worn-down.

It might not be burnout-bad, but you’ve definitely felt a bit drained, and whether its impacted your ministry or not, it has impacted you personally. Let me encourage you to think about adding a different kind of resolution this new year.

 

Let me invite you to resolve to Sabbath.

Now Sabbath is a loaded term, and depending on your history, might even have some guilt-ridden connotations to it. But for now, let’s simply think of it as this: Stopping to rest and enjoy God and His goodness.

What would it look like for you this year to reorganize your schedule in such a way that you observed consistent times of stopping to meaningfully rest and enjoy God? Not to do another message prep under the guise of personal devotions, but to simply enjoy God and His goodness for no other end?  …To carve out a solid block of your schedule at the same time every week to selfishly waste time with God?

I think we all nod our heads to the idea of Sabbath.

“Yep, that’s a great idea, and something I need.” But it seems as if we’re really good at finding excuses or making exceptions to forgo Sabbath and pretty soon the idea has slipped from our mind, our calendar, and our intention.

Maybe your church has given Fridays as a Sabbath day to the staff, but you find yourself consistently having to forgo the rest as you prep for a Friday night activity with the youth group. Maybe it’s become increasingly difficult to go to God in a time of prayer or study and not have your mind immediately go to your ministry. Maybe you figure you’ll find some time to rest in August when the ministry winds down for a month (but then again then there will be volunteer recruiting, small group promotions, and curriculum searching to do).

Let me encourage you to rethink Sabbath for a bit and resolve to make it a priority this month. Here’s three tips I’ve found helpful while observing the Sabbath in my own life and ministry.

 

3 Tips for Rebooting Your Sabbath

1. Start simple.

There’s no point in trying to Sabbath if you set your expectations so high that they’re impossible to achieve. Instead of “tying up a heavy load and placing it on your shoulders”, explore the idea of delighting in God and His goodness. What does that look like for you? What would be a meaningful way for you to experience that? Get creative!

2. Stay consistent.

One important aspect of the Sabbath is to observe it in a regular rhythm. In the same way that our bodies don’t require oxygen only now and then, our souls need a regular rhythm of engagement and rest to stay healthy. This is where the element of discipline factors in. before we can confidently say, “No” to that really great opportunity that will inevitably pop up in the moment, we must be convinced that Sabbath is a priority for ourselves, our families, and our ministry.

3. Be intentional with your focus.

Don’t waste your rest on things that aren’t restful. I know it seems obvious, but too often I find myself wasting my times of rest just being lazy, not really being renewed. Find those things that meaningfully bring delight and joy to your soul and that ultimately draw you closer to God. Do those things. A Marathon of Call of Duty 3 next Friday might be a guilty pleasure, but it doesn’t do much to restore your soul. Avoid things that might offer a distraction but neglect to engage your soul. Ask yourself, “what are those things that draw me closer to God and bring delight to my soul?” Spend your Sabbath doing those things.

Have creative ways that you enter in to Sabbath? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment with your outside-the-box approaches to Sabbath and join the conversation!

Aaron Brown
Professor of Student Min at Lancaster Bible College
Aaron Brown is an Assistant Professor of Student Ministry at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, PA. He attended Biola University and Talbot School of Theology. Before coming to LBC, he was the Sr. High Director at Living Word Community Church in Red Lion, PA. Aaron serves as the Project's editor and web guy.