As is customary on Fridays, we do a Question of the week. Today I’m going to go into the issue of keeping your day off, your Sabbath. The actual question was asked in a tweet by British youth worker Dan Crouch a few weeks back and here’s what he tweeted:
I’ve written before on the importance of taking a day off, of keeping a Sabbath. Note that I’m saying a Sabbath, because Sundays are often workdays for youth workers so if that’s the case for you as well, you can pick another day. The key thing is that you have a day a week to not work, to relax and enjoy God’s presence, your family and some down time.
But how do you keep this day off from getting interrupted by work? Here’s my advice:
Pick a ‘regular’ day off
If possible, take a day off on the same day every week. If you have to choose a different one each week, you’ll be tempted to give in to work pressures and you’ll end up taking only a half day or no time off at all.
Communicate your day off
It’s crucial to communicate your day off. Inform your youth leaders, pastor, small group, co-workers, church members or who ever regularly calls you when you have your day off. I’ve put my day off in the church bulletin on more than one occasion to make sure everyone knew not to call me.
Make it very clear what a day off means to you. Some people have no problem doing some work on a day off, others do nothing, except email and some don’t do anything. If you want people to leave you alone on your day off, communicate that to them. Tell them they cannot call you, unless it’s a true emergency. If necessary, define ‘emergency’…I’m not kidding. I’ve had people call me on my day off because we were out of cookies in the youth room!
Don’t make exceptions
If you want people to leave you alone on your day off, it’s crucial that you don’t make exceptions yourself. You cannot expect people to take it seriously when you yourself don’t. Don’t do work on your day off, don’t send emails or make calls and when people call you, don’t answer or tell them to call back the next day. Don’t make exceptions, not even when they say ‘oh but I have just one quick question’…sounds familiar? You’ll have to be firm about this, or they’ll never learn.
It’s the hardest thing to do for many of us: go offline. Don’t check your email, don’t open Facebook, Google+, Twitter or whatever. Stay offline. Believe me, you won’t miss anything dramatic and you can always catch up. The risks of getting sucked right back into work mode far outweigh the chances of you missing anything important. Besides, social media are time consuming and if you’re not careful you end up spending your day off on catching up in these instead of spending time with God and others.
Keeping a Sabbath is hard because there is always work to do and often we feel like taking time off is the wrong priority. How can we defend taking time off when our to do list is three pages long? If you wrestle with questions like this, it’s important that you motivate yourself for taking a day off. Make a list of all the reasons and benefits and keep reading these. Remind yourself that you can’t lead on empty. Keep a journal of what the Sabbath you had has done for you, about what spending time with God and your family or friends has meant for you and your relationship with God. Convince yourself of the benefits ‘till you don’t have to anymore and it has become a habit.
Teach on the Sabbath
Not everyone understands the Biblical principles of keeping a Sabbath. It may be necessary to teach these in your team. Encourage others to keep the Sabbath (and it goes without saying you’ll respect their day off as well!), talk about what it means to you, show them the blessings and the benefits. Be a promoter of keeping the Sabbath, not just because it will help you with your own day off, but because it’s biblical.
I hope this will be helpful to you Dan and to others who wrestle with truly having a day off. It’s vitally important to have a Sabbath day, so keep fighting for it!
What do you do to make sure you’re not disturbed on your day off? What are the biggest ‘temptations’ for you to get sucked into work again?