Most congregations designate Sunday as the Sabbath or day of rest. For Worship Leaders, however, it has evolved into a day full of services, leadership responsibilities, rehearsals and meetings. Congregants, teams, staff and even family members vie for your time and full attention. At the end of the day your spiritual, emotional, mental and physical resources are usually completely depleted.

Since this designated day is obviously not a Sabbath for you … when is? Or are you even taking one? If not, how can you regularly lead people to a place where you no longer have the stamina to go yourself?

If you have flown on a commercial airline you have undoubtedly heard the flight attendant recite the following pre-flight safety instructions: “In the unlikely event the oxygen level in the main cabin becomes unstable, oxygen masks will drop in front of each passenger.” Passengers are then instructed to secure their own masks before assisting other passengers.

Observing a Sabbath says to the frantic, exhausted, distracted, fatigued people of God: please, rest. The hectic lives of Christians in our culture and the busyness of many churches show little sign of living out of God’s rest. Our tendencies to imitate our culture are directly related to our unwillingness to stop, cease producing, consuming, moving, accomplishing, buying, planning. 

We can be as much 24-7 (even in the name of Jesus) as our secular neighbors. Yet we cannot live as light and salt, doing righteousness and showing justice, if we fail to practice living out God’s rest. It’s a boundary that sets us free. —Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice. 

Ministry can sanctify busyness rather than free us from it. Our church culture often values motion as a sign of significance, believing our efforts are essential to God’s success in His mission to the world. Attempting to elevate our relevance through our activity always originates with our arrogance not with the will of God.

Jesus said, 

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. —Matthew 11:28-30, The Message.

Observing a Sabbath is saying yes to God and His rhythms and no to the life-draining rhythms of the culture and people around us – it is essential to our call to worship.  Worship Leader … if you aren’t modeling Sabbath observance for your congregation, who will?

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