The discussion of pastoral health is interesting especially if it includes a weekly sabbath. Pastoral Health. Unlike any other doctrinal topic, unless there is an application of a weekly sabbath, the discussion of pastoral health will remain simply a discussion with zero health benefits.
This is why my good friend, Kiha, occasionally asks me how my weekly sabbath is going because he knows Sabbath and Health go together.
Two years ago our doctrinal understanding of Sabbath Rest was rocked by Dr. A.J. Swoboda and Dr. Matthew Sleeth as they unpacked the Biblical principle of Sabbath Rest at a Foursquare leadership retreat. For 2 1/2 days we learned so much of the doctrine of sabbath rest and the health it brings. Up until then we both saw “sabbaths” as days off, occasions when we could catch up on home, church, or recreational projects but never really resting or worse, never inviting Jesus into our “sabbath”.
Have you noticed how we pastors can quickly move from one doctrinal topic to the next, once we feel we know the material well enough to teach it to our congregations. With the topic of heath and sabbath rest… this doesn’t work!
Jesus addressed the fundamental issue of pastoral health in Matthew 11:28-30. He said to His disciples, “Take my yoke upon you...and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus’ yoke and your health go together.
Taking on a yoke sounded more like a burden to me. And pastors don’t need to take any more on than we already have. If anything we need to take things off! Even the word “yoke” sounded heavy. The purpose of a yoke was to share the work load. But Jesus says “take My yoke upon you. My yoke is easy!” Actually the word easy means fits perfectly. Jesus is saying “My yoke fits you perfectly.”
For years Jesus was a carpenter working in his Father’s shop. So I am certain that Jesus probably made many, many yokes. A good yoke maker would measure the animal and make sure that it fit perfectly so that it didn’t rub the wrong way or create bruises or scars or burns on the animal’s back. A carpenter would custom fit the yoke.
Again, Jesus’ yoke and your health go together!
His yoke included a day of complete rest during a course of a week. And when it comes to your health and rest He says to take on His yoke. He knows how you’re wired. He knows your personality. He knows what you can handle and what you can’t handle. I believe Jesus is saying to us, take off the yoke of doing things your way. We disobey this charge when we ignore God’s healthy life patterns including a sabbath rest. Our yoke leads to fatigue, stress, and weariness. God’s yoke fits you perfectly.
For the past 2 years our district has encouraged our pastors to implement a weekly sabbath. Not a day off. A sabbath. I believe a weekly sabbath can do so much more for our pastors than learning about pastoral health. And it’s cheaper.
Here’s a closing thought. Find another pastor and commit to keep each other accountable to keep a weekly Sabbath. It’s working for me and Kiha!