Discipleship,  Life

When Strategy and Sabbath Overlap

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Peter Drucker

Well, the coronavirus has impacted our culture greatly and thus impacted many plans and strategies along the way.

The Bible says a great deal about making plans. A few examples would be:

  • The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16.9
  • Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16.3
  • Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord will, we will live and do this and that.” – James 4.13-15

So, making plans and having plans are not wrong, but we need to recognize that we are not in control. We have certainly realized that right now with us yielding to a microscopic virus. But we should remember that the God who created the expanse of the universe deserves an even greater yielding.

Why do I mention strategy?

Well, as it relates to my quest to observe the Sabbath, I have to determine where it fits in my STRATEGY.* Does my STRATEGY allow me to break for REST? In last week’s post, I mentioned how my MISSION, largely developed twenty years ago, incorporated the idea even without me realizing it.

*I capitalize words like STRATEGY and MISSION here as I am specifically referring to my specific purposes, not just a general concept of having a strategy or mission, for instance.

The same is true for my STRATEGY. My STRATEGY is as follows:

  • Love God and others, beginning with my family. (Mark 12.29-31)
  • Exercise discipline in my life – spiritually, bodily (diet/exercise), and financially. (1 Timothy 4.7-8)
  • Action is the evidence of faith. (James 1.22)
  • Read God’s Word and quality resources for continued personal growth. (Proverbs 1.5-6)
  • Nurture others around me to find God’s purpose for their lives. (Ephesians 4.12-13)

If you notice the first letter of each word spells the acrostic LEARN. And learning is extremely important as I teach a church (as pastor), at a seminary/Bible college, pastors in other countries, etc. In addition, my number one mantra in life is: “When you stop learning, you start dying.”

So, yes, LEARN is important.

But like last week, I had not even considered that SABBATH was already built into my STRATEGY. But it is. I believe it is most evident in EXERCISE. It will take spiritual discipline to keep the Sabbath regularly. But doing so also shows a LOVE for God, and ACTION even by being inactive.

Additionally, I will be reading more about the Sabbath, and one of my books this quarter is entitled, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight In Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. So, between that book and the Bible, I will READ more about finding the rest I need.

While the last item, NURTURE, may be less evident at first glance into how it fits, I do see an indirect benefit. As I consider its function in my STRATEGY, I realize that if I am not so tired in doing the things I do, because I am finding REST, then I will have more energy to truly help others find and act on their calling.

I realize the words that make up the acrostic may be somewhat general. I believe they must be. However, they must also be specific enough to be helpful.** They have worked for me in the past. And now I see how they fit the present goal, even if I did not connect the ideas originally.

**I have rejected certain opportunities because I did not see how they fit which is the whole purpose in developing a set of guiding statements. But here, I did not even consider if Sabbath fit but soon learned that it fit perfectly.

Thinking back to the verses at the beginning of this post, this post provides some evidence of what it means to make your plans and submit to the Lord. As previous posts have mentioned, I know God wants me to rest…I know He can make me REST, but now I know the purpose He has given me has included that idea far longer than I originally realized.

Next week, I will consider how my STEPS relate to SABBATH. I must admit, I have cheated and looked ahead, and they also fit extraordinarily well.

So, yes, it is ok to have a STRATEGY. And while our individual systems must adapt to the culture around us, the main intent can remain true in most any circumstance if we have allowed God to forge our primary plan. I believe that is what He has done for me. I know a part of HOW I do things right now may be different, but WHAT I am doing and WHY I am doing are still the same.

In the midst of dealing with a pandemic over which we have no real control, it is good to know that we do still have a choice to live with purpose. Therefore, I close with the same idea I did last week.

Have a plan. Live with purpose. Choose faith. Choose God. And let Him bring you the physical and emotional and mental and any other kind of REST you need. That is what I am learning to do. It is what I must continue to LEARN to do. And I want to encourage you to do it as well.

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