I grew up memorizing the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Some of those verses are so engrained in me that I struggle in reading aloud certain passages from modern translations. Although I use modern translations in both my personal study and my preaching, I still revert back from time to time to my KJV roots. One of those verses that reads well in the King James is Mark 6:31. “And he (Jesus) said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
Often I have heard preachers interpret that verse by saying that Jesus instructs us to “come apart so we won’t come apart.” My observation is that preachers are not lazy people. Rest is not our strong suit. Even our Lord experienced what we often experience– finding time to rest is hard. Obviously, if Jesus needed rest, so do we. I have also observed that finding time to rest requires intentionality.
I had a fellow minister say to me the other day, “I heard you are going to practice what you preach.” I usually try to make that an ongoing practice; so I asked him to what he referred. “I hear you are taking a sabbatical.” He was right. As I write this I am only ten days away from beginning my sabbatical (but who’s counting?). I strongly believe that every minister needs to experience sabbath rest. I believe it is biblical. Our Lord modeled it.
We need a daily time to rest. There needs to be some point in every day when we call time out and rest our minds and our spirits and our bodies. We need a day each week for sabbath rest. For those of us who are preachers and pastors, Sundays are not days of rest. We must have another day of the week for rest, focus, and spiritual development.
We periodically need an extended time away to rest, to reflect, to dream, to sharpen our focus, to retool and refresh. BCM/D provides our staff with a four-week sabbatical every three years. I encourage every church to provide a similar opportunity for your staff. I guarantee you it will benefit both your church and your God-called leaders.