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
Have you ever noticed that of the 10 Commandments, God gives the most description to this one? Four verses 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.
I believe the inability to honor the Sabbath is a leader’s greatest danger.
Here’s why …
Leaders 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 time with family to respond to “just this one email.” Or how about going into the office for “just a couple of hours” on a holiday to catch up on a project. Found time is a precious commodity to us because our plates are full and they’re 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.
Three Sins of Sabbath Violation
Our inability to recognize our limits and to acknowledge our dependence on God is 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.
Trusting God with our limitations is frightening. We fear what it means for our identity, reputation and future if there are elements out of our control. Out of fear, we seek to control and manipulate every moment and opportunity, even if it means we’re in violation of God’s command.
In Exodus 23:12, we get more 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.”
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. I have been tempted for most of my life to see 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.
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 acknowledgement 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?