Avoid the Danger of Chronic Work
Have you ever noticed that of the 10 Commandments, God gives the most description to Exodus 20:8-11?
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy,” (Exodus 20:8-11 NIV).
Four verses are devoted to explaining why we need to rest. No other commandment is given this much dwelling time. But even with the extra explanation, I still violate this one the most.
A Leaders Greatest Danger
I believe, the inability to honor the Sabbath is a leader’s greatest danger.
Leader’s thrive on accomplishment. We’re wired for productivity. We’re naturally inclined to maximize time and opportunity. A few extra hours to catch up when others are at rest makes us feel like we’re getting ahead of the game. Some of us wake up early or stay up late to get “just a few more things done.” We check our phones during family time to respond to “just one email.” Or we go to the office on a holiday to catch up on a project, for “just a couple hours.” Unfilled time slots are a precious commodity to us because our plates are full and their spinning fast.
If you’re like me, you might be tempted to see the Sabbath as a luxury you can’t afford. Somehow we are tempted to believe we’re above the law. And this my friends is a dangerous place for us to be.
3 Sins of Sabbath Violation
Our inability to recognize our limits and to acknowledge our dependence on God is a sin. It’s a violation of God’s directive to us. When we can’t take God at His Word, we are suggesting we know better. We’ve stopped leading ourselves well by not practicing the essential disciplines that nurture our soul.
Trusting God with our limitations is frightening. We fear for our identity, reputation, and future if there are unknown elements that are out of our control. Fear compels us to seek control and manipulate every moment and opportunity, even if it means we violate God’s command. As a result, we stop giving ourselves permission to pause.
In Exodus, we find an explanation for why we should Sabbath,
“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed,” (Exodus 23:12).
Observing the Sabbath isn’t all about you! This verse explains that when we rest, we create space for those we lead to rest too. Leaders, this is huge! When you don’t rest, you don’t allow your family or those who work with you to rest. You are leading them to sin as well.
This passage was an eye-opener for me. For most of my life, I’ve been tempted to see the Sabbath as a gift to me, but that’s a selfish perspective. A leader’s life is never just about oneself. How we lead, even in rest, impacts the people we are responsible to lead.
A Fresh Perspective
Sabbath is about God and my recognition that it is him that enables me to do what I do. It’s a weekly reminder of my limitations. Sabbath is my acknowledgment of my total dependence on him. Honestly, this is really hard for me. It’s a weekly battle to turn off, shut down, disconnect, and trust God.
How about you? What is God teaching you about Sabbath and rest? How are you growing in your dependence on him?
Keep leading well.
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group
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Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.