Why do we selectively follow the Ten Commandments?
Scanning through Twitter the other day, I came across someone who works at a church who tweeted “A day off?! What’s that?” As I dug further, there were others with similar comments. Hopefully this isn’t representative of a majority of church staff members, but I’ve experienced it enough myself to know it’s not rare.
Now, I realize church staff can’t take Sundays off (I know, traditionally the Sabbath was on Saturday…work with me here). I’m also aware we’re no longer under the law. However, I’m still an advocate for taking a Sabbath.
I haven’t heard any theological arguments for ignoring the rest of the Ten Commandments, have you?
Thou shalt not murder…not worship other gods…not commit adultery…
I don’t think anyone’s trying to say since those were part of the old covenant we should throw them out. So, why are we (especially those who work in ministry) so quick to ditch the wisdom of taking a day for rest?
One objection is there’s too much work to be done to take a day off.
Let’s think about that for a moment. The Israelites couldn’t run to a fast food restaurant so they could eat on the Sabbath. They relied on God to provide enough manna the day before to last them through the Sabbath. If they could trust God to provide them with food, why can’t we trust God to help us accomplish what really is essential in a 5-6 day workweek?
Maybe the problem isn’t that you can’t get everything done. Maybe the issue is that you’ve taken on too much.
I know it’s easy for me to say that from behind a keyboard. I don’t know your specific situation. However, I’ve worked in ministry too and I’ve felt the pressure. After all, souls are on the line and we feel like we’re responsible for reaching them. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but are you putting more pressure on yourself than God expects from you?
Is He expecting your church to be everything to every person in your community or is He expecting you to obey His direction and trust Him with the outcome?
When working in ministry, I often felt a huge weight on my shoulders and if I dropped it for even a second, I was a complete failure. I didn’t want to fail my Savior, so I put in the long hours. Exercise, proper nutrition, sleep, and taking time to relax felt like luxuries I couldn’t afford to indulge in.
Then I would read Matthew 11:29-30, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
If that was true, why did I feel so stressed and exhausted? I was working in ministry, trying to honor and serve my Savior, yet I felt disconnected from Him. Who was I really serving? What was I trying to prove? Whatever the answers, what I was doing wasn’t working.
What I’ve realized is I was dangerously close, if not already there, to taking on responsibilities that weren’t really mine while operating in pride and a lack of faith. I wasn’t solely responsible for the salvation of those in contact with our ministry, for the reputation of our ministry when we made mistakes, or for making sure our department got everything done. I was part of a team and our team needed to come together to do the work with excellence.
What’s obvious to me now is I didn’t have the confidence to say “no” when needed and I didn’t fully trust God. He told Peter, “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18
Notice who will build His church – Jesus. Not me, not you, not your pastor. Yes, Jesus also charged His disciples (and by extension, us) with the Great Commission, so we certainly have a role to play out of reverence and obedience to Him. However, He will build His church.
To be more effective without wearing ourselves out, we should seek God’s direction and trust Him to direct our path. We should then plan the sermons, events, and programs for our churches months in advance. Let’s be open to unexpected ministry opportunities while developing discernment to recognize when we need to eliminate a program to take on something new.
Here’s my question for you regarding rest: Whose church is it?
If it’s yours, then it’s all up to you and there’s no time to rest. Stop reading this and get back to work. If it’s God’s, then work diligently as you trust Him to lead you and heed His example to rest. The spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, and mental benefits of taking a full day off are huge. You’ll head back into the office refreshed and ready for ministry, not exhausted and running on fumes. Let’s stay in ministry for the long haul. That will require rest and placing our trust in God – not in ourselves.
How do you ensure you’re able to take a day off?