As minister’s spouses, “Sabbath-keeping” may not necessarily mean getting “rest” on Sunday like most people. For the majority of our families, Sunday is the busiest day of the week, especially for a minister’s spouse. If you have small children (or children of any age), you know the challenge of getting everyone dressed in their Sunday best, fed and out the door on time to get to church.
It can sometimes be quite stressful on Momma, especially, if minister Daddy is already at the church early that morning preparing and praying for all that God will do that day. And it certainly doesn’t help that the enemy wants to make us distracted, anxious and flustered on Sunday mornings so that our spirits are disconnected from God and there is discord in our family.
God clearly shows us in His word to take time to be refreshed and take part in weekly Sabbath-rest for our personal soul care. Carving out this time is not always easy and it may not always happen each week. If we will place importance on it and are very intentional about scheduling Sabbath rest on our calendar, like we would an important meeting or date night, then we will find the refreshment in Him that we so desperately need.
Jesus Himself knew the value of soul-care and Sabbath rest. Luke 5:16 says, “so He often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
When Luke says “He often withdrew,” he means Jesus often withdrew from people. We know that Jesus didn’t do this because He didn’t want to be around people; in fact, it was the opposite. Jesus knew that in order to maintain His own spiritual vitality and to continue to effectively minister to others, He needed spiritual rest from his ministry. Jesus recharged His spiritual battery by getting away for a period of time and spent time connecting with His Heavenly Father. So, if Jesus recharged His spiritual battery by “going off alone to a quiet place of solitude,” He knows we most definitely need to do the same!
So, how do we develop and maintain a “Sabbath heart” as ministers and minister spouses? One practical way is by scheduling a periodic half-day or all day “retreat” at a park or other quiet, scenic outdoor place. Or maybe for you, it might mean taking a few hours a week alone if you have young kids at home and it’s hard to get away for longer stretches of time.
Sabbath rest means unplugging from the world in order to plug into God, the true source of peace and joy. Emailing, texting, social media, work, hobbies and chores all serve a purpose in our everyday lives, but I have also learned that if I’m not careful, the things which are neutral and necessary sometimes, are also void of any true fulfillment and can actually accomplish the opposite in our lives. These things can fill up our time but suck us dry emotionally, spiritually and physically if we don’t periodically “unplug.”
Sabbath-keeping allows us the room to breathe spiritually, to slow down from the fast-paced ministry life, to sit and dwell on the Lord and His promises to us, His faithfulness to us and His constant care and provision. So, ministry spouse, take Sabbath! Allow God regularly to fill your soul through spiritual rest in order for you to know Him more intimately, love Him more deeply and serve Him more passionately. Rest your soul in Him so He can continue to do a good work in and through you for the long haul!
“Sabbath-keeping: quieting the internal noise so we hear the still small voice of the Lord. Removing the distractions of pride so we can discern the presence of Christ.” Eugene Peterson
Joanna Jespersen is the wife of Dr. Ryan Jespersen, Director of Urban Missions at Texas Baptists, and momma to their two princesses, Rachel Beth (5) and Mary Kate (3). Being a pastor's wife in Dallas taught her a lot about the unique challenges and blessings of ministering in an urban setting. Joanna also serves as Minister to Children and Families at Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church in East Dallas.