The Lord initiated the Sabbath.  The fourth commandment tells us that we are to take one day to rest each week.  Following the lead of our Jewish brethren, we use this day to honor the resurrection and it is the Christian day of worship.

Perhaps it is ironic that God’s fourth law is the only commandment in which Christians feel extra spiritual when we break it.  That is especially true if we are employed by the church, pastors or heavily involved in ministry.  Additionally, what does this rest consist of?  In the deep South, where I was raised, it was thought sinful to kill anything on Sunday.  Therefore, hunters and fishermen were expected to put away their poles and guns on Sunday.  In our family, we didn’t go to the movies and we seldom ate out because this would cause others to have to work on this holy day of rest.

Sunday was the day that family got together for a big meal.  In our household, when we were teenagers, it meant a quick-lunch or picnic and then we spent the afternoon skiing.  We broke away from the river just in time to hurriedly prepare for evening worship.  I’ve read that Billy and Ruth Graham tried to make this day especially fun for their children.  No one was allowed to watch television.  It was the only day that they were allowed to drink Coca-Cola.  Sunday afternoons were spent playing board games with their parents and having an extra piece of pie.  My husband insisted that the only way to honor Sunday afternoon was by taking a nap.

This past year, I seen that more and more our teaching rests on the simply principles of the commandments.  As we teach our members the importance of following God’s law, I find myself zeroing into the importance of worship on Sunday, neglecting the rest part of the fourth law.

Here are some suggestions that may help you teach your members to learn how to rest on this holy day.

  1. Learn to rest one day a week yourself.  Put away the lame excuses and do it.  It must be important or the Lord would not have placed it immediately after the three laws that mandate how we are view and worship Him.  Because of transportation issues at Special Gathering, I cannot rest on Sunday.  Therefore, Monday becomes my day of rest.
  2. Help your members to appreciate things that are beautiful.  Try to teach them to stop during their rest times to see the beauty of God’s creation.
  3. Encourage your members to develop friendships with each other and attempt to use this time to deepen those friendships.
  4. Use your unique gifts to help your members learn to enjoy God’s blessings in a fun creative way.  A program director in NC makes sock puppets for her members’ entertainment and to teach Christian principles.  Tony and Karol Piantine, program directors of Camp Daniel in Wisconsin, are gifted artists.  Everything they do and teach is steeped in excellence and artistry.
  5. Help your members incorporate music into their rest time.  Listening to, playing and singing music is a great stress reliever.

These are only five ways to help your members learn to rest.  I’m sure there are others that you have learned.  What are they?  Or perhaps–like me–I’ve not thought much about teach the mentally challenged community how to rest.  I know the Lord is encouraging me to listen, learn and rest.

When I don’t take time to rest, I find that I stare a lot.  Letting my mind float, I simply stare into space for long minutes.  Everyone needs time to rest, no matter how important you are to your family, your ministry or your job.  David Brad, a good friend, supervises over 100 people with his manufacturing company.  He has made an interesting observation.  He says that people take “rest time” no matter how many days they may show up at the work site. 

Brad says that the more days his men and women work, the more time they waste.  “I won’t allow my employees work week after week for seven days.”  He forces his work force to take time off, even though there may be scheduling pressures at work.  Even though Brad is a Christian, when he first became a supervisor, he allowed the people under him to work months on end every day.  Then he began to notice that the employees who took at least one day a week off were far more productive than the people working day after day.

Brad asserts, “I came to believe that God knew what he was talking about when he mandated that we take one day a week for rest.”   I know tell my employees that they must take at least two days a months off for them to keep their jobs.  An interesting thing has happened since making that decision; production in his section of the company has skyrocketed. 

Pressure to perform and to meet the needs of your members may seem to mandate that you keep pressing forward until there is nothing left to give.  My good friend, Inez Thompson, used to say, “I’d rather wear out than rust out.”  She became a pastor of the largest church in our county after she had turned 65.  She ran circles around many of the younger pastors on staff.  Yet, she took her day off to rest and reflect.  During those hours, she ministered to the Lord and she allowed the Lord to minister to her. 

Taking a rest day is a vital choice that we make each week.  Too often we slip into the unproductive “stare times” rather than the productive rest days that the Lord commanded that we take.

The hardest thing I do each week is to take a day off.  What about you?  Do you try to work every day with little time for rest?  How do you find your days off productive in regard to ministry?