By Phil Porter


When I first began receiving leadership coaching 4 years ago, we spent the first year just trying to get me untangled from too much admin work that was robbing me of the ability to really lead well. I was constantly busy and always feeling overwhelmed by the length of my to-do list. During that process, I discovered Ruth Haley Barton’s book, “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership”, which uses Moses’ life as a template for spiritual leadership. One of the many nuggets in this book is her point that every leader must eventually learn to face the reality that there are physical limits to time and space, strength and energy. She says, “When we refuse to live within limits, we are refusing to live with a basic reality of human existence. God is the infinite one. I am not.”

A profound illustration of God’s intent for us was His institution of the Sabbath. God Himself rested on the seventh day. His instructions about the Sabbath were clear long before the Law of Moses. And Israel’s observance of the Sabbath was to be a constant reminder that “God is the infinite one. I am not.” He expects us to trust Him to carry the work and weight of the world while we rest. Why? Because like all other creation, we are finite beings.

A survey of 20,000 Christians around the world, conducted by Michael Zigarelli, an associate professor of management at the Charleston University School of Business, revealed that, in his words, “it may be the case that:

Christians are assimilating a culture of busyness, hurry and overload, which leads to:

– God becoming more marginalized in Christian’s lives, which leads to:

– deteriorating relationship with God, which leads to:

– Christians becoming even more vulnerable to adopting secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to:

– more conformity to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload…

…and then the cycle begins again.”


Paradoxically, it is a work of faith to stop and rest on the Sabbath. Let me repeat. It is a WORK of FAITH to stop and rest on the Sabbath. We may even feel guilty for doing so. It goes against everything the world tells us. We must work to overcome the lies of the Enemy. We must put our faith in our Infinite God. And we must accept our reality of being a finite human. But if we recognize the wisdom and value of the Sabbath, it will become a gift that allows us to maintain joy and peace in our life and ministry. In her other book, “Sacred Rhythms”, Ruth’s description of what the Sabbath was meant to be sounded so delicious to me. I began to long for it and make it a priority.

Living within limits allows us to say “no” when necessary, and not feel guilty. It allows us to give ourselves grace for not being a superhero. As Ruth states, “I am not God. God is the only one who can be all things to all people. God is the only one who can be two places at once. God is the one who never sleeps. I am not. This is pretty basic stuff, but many of us live as though we don’t know it.”
But the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11)
So let me ask you, “How is your Sabbath?”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed from overwork, out of balance, it’s probably time to review the basics. Genesis chapter 2, verse 3: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.”

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