Monday, March 21, 2011

Chris Seay's Sabbath Routine

This is one of the most challenging and important spiritual practices
to integrate well into the life of a Pastor. We are called to work so that others can seek rest and worship, but if we do not have time set aside for our own rest, worship, and sacred feasting we will careen off of the path quickly. There are several formidable foes to a pastor Sabbath-ing well:
  • Swimming Upstream: We need to find a way to Sabbath when everyone else is working. They may be working in the yard on a Saturday or in their vocation on a Monday but the phone does not stop ringing when we seek our rest. This requires extreme discipline and a commitment to having sacred space set aside in our week.
  • Growing Families: As our children grow, the rhythms that worked well in one season will not necessarily work well in the next. For instance, when my kids all were homeschooled we had tremendous flexibility. As their lives and schedules fill with musicals, practices, school, co-ops, bible studies, birthday parties, and sports it becomes increasingly difficult.
  • Growing Churches: As our churches grow it means adding services and weekend responsibilities. When we started Ecclesia I was preaching one service on Sunday evening. Now I preach four on Sunday and one on Saturday night; it changes everything.

Our Current Rhythm: I try to wrap myself in Sabbath on both sides of our weekend worship services. On the front end I seek time with the family and on the back end I seek time alone.

Friday Evening: I Sabbath with family. We share dinner and sometimes board games, a walk, or maybe a movie. The fact that we still try to get our kids to bed early often allows Lisa and me to enjoy the second half of the evening or get much needed rest.

Saturday Morning: Sleep in. Lisa is very gracious to keep things quiet and try to give me an extra hour to sleep on Saturdays. When I get up I take the boys to a special event we call “Taco Cabana and the Bible”. We tend to sit on the patio even in bad weather and the three of us share good food and a time for family discipleship. I am grateful that my boys are inquisitive, loving, and that they covet this time we spend together. I find that the Lord usually lays a story from the Scriptures on my heart a few days before and that the discussion of this text is always the best part. My boys Solomon and Christian are nine and five years old.

Saturday Evening: I exercise at my health club on Saturday afternoons and spend a few hours in prayer and study to be ready to preach by 5pm. I have been pleasantly surprised that the addition of a Saturday service has allowed me to relax fully that evening after the service, because my sermon is complete. We have found that it has made dinner and family time together more enjoyable than it was in years past when I would have been mentally tinkering with my sermon. After a full weekend Sunday Evening/Monday is a time for my personal rest and refreshing.

Sunday Evening: On my way home from our last service I stop at my favorite Mexican Food joint and enjoy a feast. It is in some ways my reward for making it through the weekend and it is also a time when I get to stop and reflect on the weekend. I often spend this time praying for people I encountered at Ecclesia over the weekend and reaching out to some by phone or email who may have been in a time of crisis. I find that this helps me to better enjoy my Monday and helps me seek closure to a few of the pressing needs that arose over the weekend. I usually get home just in time to catch the kids before they are asleep.

Monday: Because Lisa has carried the full responsibilities of the children on Sunday, it is important that I wake up in time to take the kids to school and to their homeschool cooperative. If I get drawn into a work mentality, this is where it usually happens. The primary goal for me is to read, rest, exercise, and enjoy the hours while the kids are in school. I tend to eat sushi, get a massage at a local massage school (read: cheap massage), or see a movie by myself as a typical treat after my morning reading and workout. I love this day. I am an introvert at heart, so the extroverted nature of preaching five times and talking with hundreds of people exhausts me relationally, this time alone is very important. If I do this well, I am ready for work on Tuesday morning. If I do not, I go into the week on a major deficit that I am constantly trying to conquer.

Chris Seay is the founding and lead pastor of Ecclesia in Houston. Chris is an internationally acclaimed speaker and author. His most recent book is The Gospel According to Jesus.

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