From Pakistan to Hungary, Kenya to the US, Sabbath and rest don’t come easily for most of us. We are busy leaders and ordinary people, living through times of crisis and shifting seasons, against a backdrop of a world in suffering. Some of us are camped on the edge of chronic burnout and have realized we must find a way to turn back; others of us are slowly carving our lives into the rhythms of rest.
We hope that through sharing our small practices, struggles, and bits of wisdom, you also will be encouraged to taste the joy and gift of resting in the Lord.
The first sections below are longer stories of sabbath. Toward the end of the article you’ll find a list of daily and weekly practices from our staff, as well as further resources.
Health Crises Lead to Three Shifts toward Sabbath
‘In 2009, a severe condition of angina pectoris was the first alarm of a weakened heart condition that was traced primarily to ministry stress. Then in 2018, I experienced a prolonged seven-month period of depression I came to describe as a “dark night of my soul”. So really, my healthy disciplines of sabbath rest have only begun to emerge since 2019.
First, I was struck by the writings of Pete Scazzero that the sabbath verses were more than all the others in the Exodus 20 record of the ten commandments. Devotionally, that shifted my understanding of sabbath rest to the themes of worship, dependence and delighting in God, and growing in his likeness: that was a significant renewal of mind that I very much needed.
Secondly, the Lord prompted me to shift practically from the routines of my daily to-do list to reflective weekly rhythms of my significant life roles. That was the first time I could have a weekly day of rest, and still keep to core priorities. Transformative new habits are forming from this daily to weekly shift for me.
Thirdly, cross-cultural learning from friends in the Lausanne family strengthened my new Sabbath learning. Now I understand better that holidays are holy-days, and annual leaves are life-giving.’
– Nana Yaw Offei Awuku (Ghana), Global Associate Director for Generations
Sacrificially Loving Others vs. Resting in the Lord
‘We are currently in an unusual season where very close family friends are going through a life-altering family health crisis. In the last month, I (and my family) have spent countless hours caring for kids, providing support in hospital rooms, mobilizing prayer warriors, and taking care of logistics. I would do it happily and more if I could. Biblical virtues of sacrificial love and mercy resonate deeply with me.
But now, as the immediate crisis is turning into a long-haul situation, I am finding myself so poured out, depended on, and time-invested that rest and Sabbath have nearly disappeared. I need to take seriously what I know to be true but have a hard time acting upon—namely, that I cannot pour out endlessly while empty. Rest and Sabbath are necessary, even if it means saying no to good, important opportunities and needs.
For me in this season, I specifically and actively have to choose to trust that our God is big enough to provide for my dear friends, regardless of my ability to be involved. Though I have been able to be of significant practical help for them in this time, ultimately, I cannot be the end-all solution for them. I can still be of help, a dear friend walking this new journey with them, but I also need to faithfully steward the relationships and obligations that God has already given me. I cannot do this without time, a healthy connection with the Lord, and rest for my own soul.
Finding the tension between pouring out in love and being wise/faithful is hard, and something I am currently intensely wrestling through. Jesus certainly provided a perfect example for this—tending to a multitude of needs, yet retreating for connection with his Father and rest. Something particularly restful for me in this time has been losing myself in prayerful musical worship and praise, affirming God’s sovereignty, power, and intimate care for all those involved in this situation, and speaking Jesus over the needs and hurts of this life.’
– Amy Hurst (US), Development Assistant
Protecting Rest as a Young Working Mother
‘As a young working mother, rest may be impossible to come by when you are juggling house chores, taking care of the baby, and work. I have therefore trained myself to sleep when the baby sleeps, to accept help when offered and ask for help when I need to rest. I now know that it is okay to decline home visits and additional responsibilities and invitations until a time when I feel ready to, so that I am able to create resting time and not worry about things that need to be done. I have learned to stay away from my phone. This enables me to control what I think about when resting. It is also important to communicate to your partner or whoever you are living with your intentions and the period of time that you need for rest.’
– Donnah Odera (Kenya), YLGen Projects Coordinator
Strategies for Winning the Sabbath Struggle
‘Sadly Sabbath is an ongoing struggle. I would argue that the struggle is the result of the day and age we live in but the frequency of biblical rebukes on not keeping the Sabbath would suggest that it is an age-old battle. For most of us, Sabbath is something that we are more committed to in belief than in practice, and have a greater desire for than what we are able to enter into. It would appear that we would only enter His rest fully upon the final return and complete overcoming of the fallen state of humanity. That said, just as we don’t give in to sin in general, the Sabbath is worth fighting for!
I have found that I tend to win the battle when:
- I plan my Sabbath and then plan my work around it.
- I find workable, repeatable rhythms.
- I see rest as a form of worship, as I trust him to do more than what I can.
- I rest for what He has called me to more than from my work.
- I make others aware of when I rest and keep each other accountable.’
– Jurie Kriel (US), Co-Leader of Nehemiah Mobilization Team for L4
Being Attentive in the Moment
‘Being present and living/experiencing the moment is what I try to practice every day. There are myriads of opportunities: when I listen to my child laugh, or watch her explore, or enjoy her vivid facial expressions. When I sit down with a cup of tea in our backyard and listen to the birds sing, or feel the fresh breeze on my face, or watch my flowers bloom and my garden grow. When I am able to say a word of encouragement to a hurting friend, or extend some help to the person in need or just sit with someone silently in their pain.
Being present, being available, being open, being vulnerable—this is what I believe God wants from me and what helps me be refreshed and replenished.’
– Svetlana Stepanenko (US/Belarus), Translation and Localization Manager
Sabbath in the Context of the World’s Suffering
‘Sabbath rest is resting in God’s presence and knowing his essence such as his unceasing mercy and unfailing love. During my daily morning walks, while meditating on God’s word, I find such rest and feel refreshed—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually—by acknowledging God’s goodness in the rising sun at dawn, the chirping of early birds, and the blooming spring flowers.
But recently, I have been struggling with those suffering due to war, disease, crime, and other injustices. Can they find sabbath rest even in the midst of such pain? In Psalm 23, besides enjoying green pastures and quiet waters, the psalmist also experiences the darkest valley. Yet he responds confidently: “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”’
– Loun Ling Lee (UK), LGA Editor
Manna for Difficult Times
‘When COVID quarantine was common, my family enjoyed sabbath as we had only dreamed of before: food cooked the day before; no screens; family worship; puzzles and board games; walks on the road that looped down and to the left between the rice fields.
And then we experienced loss, confusion and trauma. And I’ve been trying to learn again what it means to rest, to sabbath. Heck, just to feel ok. The only thing I knew to do was to go back the way I came: I picked up the breviary from an Episcopal convent that I found refuge at several times decades ago. And I read matins out loud. I read diurnum, vespers, compline. I did not—and do not—read all of those services each day. Each day, there is maybe one service that crosses my lips. But I hold that book; I read those prayers, those psalms and scriptures. I put those words on my tongue, openly human, desperate and in the communion of saints.
This process—of going from months of elated sabbath, then back the way I came through past spiritual practice—has a sacred lineage. I think of the disciples, particularly the women disciples who traveled with Jesus. They had new experiences of sabbath and rest in the presence of God. They walked those roads, looping between the fields, with Jesus. And then Jesus was killed: there was loss, confusion and trauma. And right away, it was time for sabbath: “The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:55-56 ESV).
The women did what they knew to do. In the midst of harrowing trauma, they rested, according to the commandment. They rested in the Word. Who knows what the women heard from the Lord during that particular sabbath? But they would have said the familiar prayers and the scriptures. Those old words had taught them to be human—and holy—for all those years. Those words were on their tongues as manna on that hardest day. And so I taste the manna of the breviary and rest in God in these days. It is what I know to do.’
– Darcy Luetzow Staddon (US/Japan), Executive Assistant to the Global Executive Director
Daily and Weekly Routines
- ‘On a daily basis, I get up early and have an hour of Bible reading, journaling, devotions, and prayer. This keeps me focused and listening to the Lord throughout each day. On my day off, I set aside all electronic work, including email, computer, writing, assignments, and so on, and do something I like to do, such as go for a bike ride, visit a flea market, or work in the yard.’
– Brent Burdick (US), Director of Lausanne Global Classroom
- ‘Church service and community rest is non-negotiable in our family. During the week I find it helpful to start the day with reading my Bible and prayer with the help of different resources like SheReadsTruth or Precept study books. And then daily walks in the park or near the water help to continue the conversation with the Lord.’
– Anna Chviedaruk (Belarus), Operations Manager
- ‘The biggest thing we do to protect our Sabbath time is to turn off technology for the day. It allows us to focus on relationships and rest (yay, naps!), and it frees us from the continual temptation to be drawn into work or social media.’
– Justin Schell (US), Director of Executive Projects
- ‘Beyond my role with Lausanne I also pastor a church. I’ve decided that Monday will be my day of rest. Even though I’m an extrovert, after a week of Zoom meetings and then a busy Sunday I really need some time to refuel, without any human interaction outside my family. I don’t schedule any meetings or calls for Mondays, and I’ve set up my phone to not allow through any calls, messages or notifications. Only my wife is an exception.’
– Attila Nyari (Hungary), Chief of Staff
- ‘Rest and sabbath with little children can often be more of a dream than a reality. In my early days with the littles, I made a commitment to myself—I would spend time outdoors on a run, daily. Running is where I have often felt closest to God. But with more little humans to care for, I wasn’t sure how I could make this priority a reality. The wake up calls are early—4:30am—but the sacrifice of an extra hour of sleep is well worth it. That commitment has become my refuge, my rest, my refreshment. Prayers become lengthy dialogue with the Lord as each mile goes by. In the busiest of seasons, I can always count on my runs to provide me with full rest and refreshment and for that I am so, so grateful.’
– Sarah White (US), Director of Operations
- ‘[On my Sabbath], I usually sleep a little longer. I try to keep myself away from my phone and my computer. After having breakfast I usually sit alone and meditate, which helps me to calm myself and help me to think clearly. I try to read scripture or some other book which is my favorite part of the day. I cook for my family or take them out for some recreational activity. Later I visit my friends and together we sing and pray. All of this is not a part of my daily routine so over Sabbath I do all this so that I have the energy and a fresh perspective for the next whole week.’
– Yaksan Azam (Pakistan), Online Content Manager and Global Classroom Video Editor
- ‘Since early in our marriage, my wife and I have designated one day a week when we put our regular work aside, and focus on time with one another and with the Lord, doing things that refresh us, changing the pace, putting aside our normal work, and usually including time in God’s creation. Over the years our patterns have changed—depending on the age and stage of our children, our vocational roles, and our church involvements. But just as I crave and need time at the beginning of each day to be alone with God, to draw strength for the day ahead, so I look forward to one day a week when my wife and I can rest and be refreshed together.’
– David Bennett (US), Global Associate Director for Collaboration and Content
- ‘I take a nap every day, and walk at night under the stars to pray. The brief break for my body in the day and the pause to pray in the dark outside at night both refresh my soul on a regular basis.’
– E.D. Burns (US), Director of Content
Resources on Rest and Sabbath
We recommend the following resources for learning more about rest and sabbath:
- ‘The Biblical Antidote to Burnout’ by Glenn Davies (video)
- ‘Feel Guilty When You Rest?’ by Pablo Martinez (article)