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Shift Ministry Models

Say Yes To Rest

Make Room For You, Loved Ones, and God
by Jess Gulseth | June 13, 2022

Raise your hand if you’re good at resting? Anyone? Funny enough, God models rest for us in Genesis. God’s first great work was creation. God imagined, sculpted, organized and crafted creation from top to bottom, really putting in some work. But here’s the kicker, you know what followed this marvelous work? Rest. And God said that rest was holy. 

One of the greatest cruxes of western culture is busyness. Sometimes busyness is how you stay alive, economically, mentally or otherwise. Sometimes it’s to ‘keep up’ or go with the times. Sometimes you just get sucked into an unhealthy rhythm and don’t know how to get out. With that in mind, I want to encourage you to seek rest regularly. 

So let’s start with definitions:

  • Sabbath (rest): To take a rest or abstain from work for a short period of time. 

Well of course, this means we need to define work…

  • Work: to fulfill tasks or duties for wages; to continuously exert yourself mentally or physically for a purpose or out of necessity.

In order to honor Sabbath in our lives we have to set boundaries with ourselves, with others and within our working environments. It takes intentionally to create regular patterns of rest.

For me, my sabbath is Friday morning to Saturday morning, a whole 24 hours. Here are the boundaries for this time:

  • I only do the things I want to do. Which means- I say no to laundry, dishes and other house work. I say yes to my favorite shows, reading a book, or creating something that brings me joy. 
  • It’s okay to leave non-emergency texts, calls and emails unread. I might put my phone in another room for the day, activate my do not disturb setting, adjust my settings so only certain people can reach me (great for partners or children) or even set an auto reply text to say today is my day of rest I will respond tomorrow. 
  • I only make plans with me, myself, and I. I say no to plans with others on Fridays and yes to plans almost any other day. 

Work things that interrupt our sabbath:

  • Emergencies: There are circumstances that justify interrupting sabbath but it requires thinking about what those circumstances are (to the best of our ability) ahead of time. 
    • Make a list of things YOU think are emergencies in your line of work. 
    • Determine how to handle things OTHERS think are emergencies.
  • Intrusive work thoughts: I always remember important work things and have ideas at all hours of the day. When this happens, I add them to a notes tab on my phone. This gets them out of my head, so I don’t forget, and allows me to go back to them during my regular work hours. 
  • Being too available: There are some jobs where it is really hard to not be available 24/7. But we are not Jesus, we can not be everything to everyone at all times. Some tips:
    • Set email reply expectations in your email signature. I tag every email with a note that says ‘Fridays are my day off’.  
    • Let calls go to voicemail after hours and call back.
    • Go home when you’re supposed to.
    • Trust your coworkers, staff, and volunteers to do their work
    • When you’re on Vacation set an out of office note and delete work apps or turn off your work notification. 

What to do with your sabbath?It can be hard to take rest from work, but when we say no we make room for the ‘yes’. The Hebrew word for rest is to dwell or settle with. When we set time aside from work we get to dwell, be in relationship with ourselves, with others, and with God. Jesus addresses honoring the sabbath in the gospels and reminds us that the sabbath was made for people and not the other way around. Rest was modeled and commanded for the good of people. It is good to rest. Rest is a necessary counterpart to work. When we say no to work we say yes to rest – which is a yes to self, a yes to others, and a yes to God.

About the Author

Jess Gulseth

Jess Gulseth is a seminary student at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. She is an MDiv student with a concentration in Children, Youth and Family ministry. Jess works full time in a congregation in West Des Moines, IA. She loves coffee, board games and earrings.

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