Discipleship,  Life

Slowing Down the STEPS Toward Sabbath

“There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.” Gandhi

How appropriate those words are! And they were spoken decades ago before the pace of life began to accelerate even further.

Of course, now, in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, life has slowed down in many ways for many people. For some, the pace has come to a halt.

While my pace has not slowed down yet, I continue to make progress toward that goal. Lord willing, on Saturday (the day after this post is published), I will realize my first Sabbath. In fact, it will be my first day without working since January 13, 2019 (over 450 days).

Needless to say, that is not healthy.

But it has been my reality.

It is one thing to work and it is another to work at increasing speeds. And our culture seems to dictate the increased pace. However, we still make a choice to accommodate that pace. Or we can choose to resist it.

As I have shared my VISON, MISSION, and STRATEGY over the past few weeks, I have noticed that these statements have included the idea of REST even though I did not realize that truth when each of the statements were developed several years ago (with the MISSION statement changing very little in over 20 years).

So, this week, I look at my STEPS, which are as follows:

LEARN   more about God and how He wants me to serve Him. (Ephesians 5.1-2)

LIVE       with a mindset on His Kingdom, not mine. (Matthew 6.33)

LOVE     my wife, my children, then others, that each might find their own place in serving God. (2 Timothy 2.2)

LEAD      my family, then others to serve God and make disciples by equipping them with biblically-based principles. (1 Corinthians 11.1)

(LEAVE) satisfied that my work is done when I am called, knowing others are equipped to carry on the ministry after I am gone. (2 Timothy 4.7)

These STEPS are the newest part of my guiding statements and they have been in place for more than six years. I use the word STEPS because a strategy has to have a process to be executed. That is, we execute a strategy. How do we do that? By following a series of STEPS. And thus, that is my rationale for the word choice.

So, what about REST? Does Sabbath fit within the context of these statements? Yes.

Let me briefly explain.

Currently, in order to achieve my VISION, I must fulfill my MISSION, which requires me to execute my STRATEGY, which requires me to follow the first step, which is to LEARN. I must better understand the principle of REST to properly take the rest I need.

But it is not enough to know about SABBATH, I must LIVE by the principles I am learning. That is, to relate back to my STRATEGY, I must take ACTION (which is the evidence of faith, the third letter of my STRATEGY).

Then, as I begin to adopt what I have learned into how I live my life, I will have more time to properly LOVE those around me. For instance, my wife and I are able to spend most evenings together, but much of my time is distracted by doing some sort of work (e.g. grading, something for church, etc.) Thus, I am not even taking time to love myself. How much more effective would my love be for her, my family, and others be if I took more time to love myself as well (Mark 12.30-31)?

Next, as I take more time for myself, I will have more time to LEAD effectively. I read quite a bit (the fourth letter of my STRATEGY). And my reading is for the purposes of growth. But sometimes I feel like I am not able to process what I read, which means it is not impacting me as it could. And if it is not impacting me, then I cannot effectively influence others as well as I could.

Finally, if I am not leading effectively, how can I equip others? And if I am not equipping as I am called to do, then I cannot LEAVE “satisfied that my work is done.” Of course, we can always find more to do. But the reality is that if people are prepared to do the work, then we have done our job. It worked for Jesus.

It will work for me.

So, the need to find SABBATH will help me take these STEPS more effectively. But to infuse the quote from Gandhi above, I must consider how fast I am taking these STEPS. Am I too focused on getting things done quickly (as if I was walking with quick steps) or can I slow down and enjoy life along the way (i.e. taking a leisurely stroll)?

As for the past, I know what my pace has been. But the future gives me options from which to choose.

My choice is to slow down. But those cannot merely be words. I must choose with my actions, not just my mind.

Again, this Saturday is the first opportunity for me to make that choice. 450 days is a long time in between. But my hope is that in making the choice this week, I will find the joy of REST and choose to experience both the rest and joy again the next week.

And although this blog is recording my journey in this process, I hope you are being encouraged (even inspired) to consider what finding and taking SABBATH might mean for you as well.

For me, and for you, it will require focus. But I believe it will be worth the effort, because I know what this side of busyness means. Now I want to have an opportunity to slow down and experience the other side for a while.

And I hope that you want the same.

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