“On and on and on and on and on she goes, where she stops no one really knows” is part of the lyrics from the Third Day song “Nothing at All.” At times I think it describes the life of youth workers. There seems to never be enough time to accomplish everything that needs to be done. There is always one more student to be visited, one more lesson to be studied or one more event to be planned.
The hecticness of our summer schedules bleeds right into the start of the school year, then into the start of the new church year, then into fall events – and on and on and on it goes. Yet, for us to be the most effective we have to take time to renew, reflect and recharge. We have to have time for Sabbath.
Even when we do take time off from work, we usually have crammed that time with activities, ball practice, a quick workout, a shower and then right back to the hecticness – really never having rested. We were not created to live life like this.
So how do we find time for Sabbath?
- Make it a priority. We make time for what we value. I can find time to watch University of Kentucky play or the latest episode of Duck Dynasty. Take a moment and look back on your past week and month, what does your calendar say you value the most?
- Understand it is a sin issue. We were not created to go 24/7. God rested at the end of creation, not because He needed to, but to model for us the importance of it. He created us in such a way that we need sleep every day – a daily time to rest and recharge. He commanded us to rest in the 10 Commandments and, in Mark 6:31, Jesus calls His disciples to “come away by yourselves and rest a little while.” When we fail to take time away to rest, we are being disobedient to how God intends for us to live.
- Time management. This is the one area of life that many I know in youth ministry struggle with the most, including me. We see blank spots on our calendars and we just keep planning things to fill that time. If we are going to prioritize down time, then we need to block it out on our calendar. We must put time on our calendar for Sabbath, so that when we look at our calendar those times are all ready taken.
- Take a vacation. We are not proving anything to anybody by working all the time. You do not necessarily have to go anywhere, but simply get away from your normal routine: do something around the house, explore the city you live in, have a late breakfast on the deck – take a break.
- Find a release. Find something you can do where you do not have to think. For some it is mowing. I have heard several guys say that time on the mower helps them unwind. They do not have to think, and the mower is too loud for them to hear their phone. Lately I have been, what my good friends Bill Houpt and Steve Coleman call, making saw dust – doing small wood working projects. Others garden, some hike or camp, some nap, others paint or play music. Find a something to do where you can get away for a bit.
- Unplug. Turn off the electronics. One phenomena with this generation of students is that they are always plugged in, and it is affecting their rest. Their phones are never off. Text messages are coming in all hours of the night and they are answering them and not getting enough sleep. Unless your spouse is about to have a baby, or someone in your family is gravely ill, it is just not that important. Take some time separate yourself from the constant barrage of information. You cannot rest your mind and soul if you are constantly checking for the latest update.