“Work hard, play hard.”
That is not a phrase that most guys read on their church staff team’s list of expectations. In fact, when they do find this phrase on the list, and then proceed to pry into what the team really means by it, they usually find that the office hours and strict job descriptions are sacred cows, or that the actual expectation looks more like something to this effect, “work until you’re almost burned out, then we’ll let you have some time to goof off, then you’ll be swamped when you return to work.” Lame. That is not a very healthy, nor Biblical, rhythm to have.
One of the actual expectations here at The Austin Stone is, “work hard, play hard.” The crazy thing is, they mean it. So much so, that they’ve built into our weekly schedules a mandatory Sabbath day of rest, and you will get lovingly rebuked by a brother if you don’t observe it, just like with any other command in the Scriptures.
Burnout is a very serious issue in the western church today. It is caused by a lack of true Biblical rest. Many guys I talk to struggle with this issue but I somehow thought I was immune. Maybe I thought this because of the relaxed weekly schedule I had, my consistent (and consecutive) days off, or even because I’ve turned my phone off for most of a day before. Whatever the reason, I believed that I knew how to rest. When I got to The Stone, I realized that I was wrong.
In Genesis 2, God models for us Sabbath rest, and in Exodus 20, we are told (by way of command) to rest, and even Jesus knew the importance of drawing away from crowds and even the disciples to rest and be filled by God the Father.
For me, figuring out how to Sabbath has been difficult but I’ve had some great help along the way and some of the guys here are still trying to figure it out as well. The ones who Sabbath well have said that it took them some time and specific tools to learn how to rest well.
One of the most helpful things for me has been to learn my fills and drains. My supervisor Justin Cofield, a worship pastor at The Austin Stone, has a great 3 minute video about this.
I want to share my struggles and successes about observing the Sabbath so far.
Something else that I have been figuring out is how to cast vision and explain to my wife and kids what I need to rest or be filled.
Another issue for me on days off is wasting time by doing nothing that fills me or by doing things with no spiritual value or emphasis on time with God at all. This is not the way to rest well.
My recent success has been found first thing in the morning, but not too early though. I’m not even sure I could fake being a morning person. My current rhythm is first, making a good cup of coffee, which for me is a bit of a process. Then cooking or just enjoying a good breakfast. Followed by an extended time in the Word, using the REAP method.
Another thing I really enjoy is listening to good music whether I am just sitting and listening or listening while doing something else. Feel free to check out one of my Spotify playlists here.
Being outside has become more enjoyable since being here in Austin. Maybe it’s because there is less humidity?? I’ve been playing basketball, taking the kids to the one of the many, and I do mean many parks. We’ve even taken an occasional trek up to Mt. Bonnell.
Something else that has been so important to my family specifically, has been the one on one time spent with each other. Things change when your life rhythms and environment change. Tasha and I no longer have baby sitters close by until we meet new people who can watch our kids so we can have date nights. We no longer have the familiar schedules or favorite places to help us just do what we do. We are having to find a new normal for us in Austin, but so far we love it.
It all takes a ton of intentionality but it is so worth it. I am still working on my fills and drains list. Just like any other discipline, its going to take practice and time to work it out. Another great resource for me was this article on Sabbath rest written by Daniel Darnell, a worship pastor at The Stone.
If you want to support my family on this journey learning and serving in this incredible ministry at The Austin Stone, become a partner with us! If you already are, thank you so much!