(This particular Blog is for leaders, managers, and anyone who supervises 1 or more persons. The principles apply to the corporate world, governmental world, community/civic groups and the church. Whether you are paid or volunteer, this is for leaders. This is also for those who are led by these leaders and I pray with all that is in me that it will inspire you to insist that those who lead you, take Sabbath Rests, also known as “vacations”. Please share this with leaders in your life, or leaders you know of who fail, as I did, to insist on extended Sabbath Rests.)
As I sit here putting my “random thoughts” together, I cannot get rid of this image. This view was “our view” this past week. Each morning that I stepped out onto the balcony of our temporary condo, this is what captivated and captured me. I knew my entire agenda for the day. Eat some breakfast; load up the cooler; pack some snacks; load the beach bag with sunscreen, towels, beach passes and room key; grab the beach chairs and the pop-up gazebo and sit in the sand. My daily activities would be to catch some “rays”, cool off in the Gulf, and then catch some more rays. Last Saturday before we left, on a scale of 1-10, my stress level was somewhere in the neighborhood of around 798. But after 30 minutes of my toes in the sand, that stress level went down to Zero. It continued to decline even more as the week progressed.
Rather than feel guilty that I felt no guilt for being so relaxed, I simply lived in all those restful moments. And I thanked my wife Debbie (multiple times) for insisting that we take this time together. This has been great for me, great for her and even greater for us. I left very clear instructions with my staff that no one contact me unless it was a real emergency. I think my words were, “If you call me, somebody better be dying or dead, or you will be!” They knew I was over exaggerating but they also knew I trusted them to take care of The Mission until we came back.
And I confess before God and to you, that I am not that good at “taking time off”. And God reminded me this week how wrong I am for not honoring Extended Sabbaths. I hurt the Mission, I hurt myself and I hurt those closest to me when I became too focused on the work and ignored the rest. If you are one of those I hurt, I apologize and ask for your forgiveness. To prevent this from happening again I have given Debbie permission and a commission, that if I fail to honor Extended Sabbaths she is to march into my office, grab me by my ponytail, and drag me away somewhere kicking and screaming; but where I will then thank her for loving me enough to remind me of the power of Sabbath.
Everyone needs Sabbaths but this article is for leaders-those in the corporate world, government, community and in the church. I once described in a sermon series that a leader is anyone who has a sphere of influence and I still believe this to be true. But for the sake of deep thought, lets call those I am referring to as more than “Official Leaders” but Leaders of The Mission. Everything has a mission. Businesses have a mission to sell whatever it is they sell. Schools have a mission to educate and prepare young minds. Government has a mission to lead its citizens to an orderly and productive life. Churches have a mission, actually the most important mission of all–the Kingdom Mission of bringing real and better life to people wherever they are at now.
Mission is not a single person’s work, but the work of the whole organization however it is defined. But any organization needs a leader who has both clarity and passion about The Mission. The clarity allows others to see in simple yet profound ways what The Mission looks like and the Leader’s passion will ignite in them an overwhelming desire to have a share in reaching that goal of the Mission. This means that The Leader is always pouring out of themselves for the sake of The Mission and the Team. And this is why Extended Sabbaths are absolutely essential for those of us in this kind of leadership.
We can possess at any given time only a certain amount of personal energy I call this “passion for The Mission”. Without consistent times of Extended Sabbaths this reserve of passion dwindles away. Think of it as a quart jar; the quart jar is capable of containing only a quart and no more. If one keeps pouring from that jar eventually the jar is empty. The jar needs to be refilled. Unfortunately, we Leaders of The Mission think that another seminar, more reading, more tasks, more brainstorming is the answer–but it’s not.
We need Sabbath and more than just a day or two–we need regular Extended Sabbaths. Jesus had something to say about Sabbath but we often limit the meaning of His words to another one of his scathing rebukes of the Religious Police in Mark 2:27 in the King James Version: “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” But listen to His words again from the New Living Translation: “ Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.”
Leaders need Sabbath and they need extended Sabbaths. But some leaders feel they cannot afford time off and time away, so they don’t. They don’t to the severe detriment of themselves, The Mission, and the people they lead. Some leaders wrongly believe that The
Mission fails unless they are there leading the charge in every little detail. Leaders who have the need to be in total charge, who feel they need to know every little thing are not leaders. They are either dictators, narcissists, or self-appointed martyrs, and the world has too many of them already and it doesn’t need any more.
The best Leaders are those who know how to delegate and understand that The Mission is much bigger than they are. If The Mission isn’t bigger than the leader, then it’s not a mission, it’s a task. Tasks will never change the organization, community or the world like The Mission will. So, if you are a Leader, when is your next Extended Sabbath? If you have just been on one like me, then when is your next? It takes more than one every four years. I think it takes at least 3 every year.
Now, I want to say something to those who have leaders in their lives. You do not honor their leadership when you call them about every little thing. If you do, then YOU are a burden and are keeping your leader from maximum effectiveness. If you feel like you have to converse with your leader when they are on Extended Sabbaths about how to do a display, fill out a form, or whatever, then you do not need a leader. You need a babysitter. I know this sounds harsh (probably because it is), but here’s a few suggestions for you:
1. Begin to grow up to become who you are created to be. In you are skills and capabilities just waiting to be released. Cultivate and nurture those within you now.
2. Trust those your leader has put in place to keep everyone on The Mission. This is an opportunity for them to grow in their leadership skills and an opportunity for you to grow to know them.
3. Practice discernment. How important is that issue really? Is it important enough to take them away from God’s gift of Sabbath?
4. Finally, respect and honor your leaders by trying every thing possible so that you do not have to interrupt them on their Extended Sabbath. Who knows, maybe you will come up with some creative solutions all by yourself.
Well, in the morning, it’s back to work for me. I know there is a pile of it waiting. I know there are many of the same tasks to do as before I went on our Extended Sabbath. And while the tasks and demands may be the same, I am not the same. God has graciously allowed me to be renewed by the simple task of doing nothing, but living in His Gift of Extended Sabbath. I will use it more, after all, God made it just for me–and He made it just for YOU!