Not long ago, I asked my friends to complete a totally anonymous survey about taking a rest day each week. First of all, thank you to the 58 friends who filled out my survey. I value your input.
Here are the results:
Do you take one day off each week?
- Yes. 52%
- No. 16%
- Sometimes. 33%
If you do NOT take a day off, why not? (37 answered this question.)
- No time. I work full-time and work at home when not working outside the home. 14%
- I work seven days a week. 5%
- I never really thought about taking a day off. 8%
- Other. 73%
- I am a housewife. How do you take a day off? We go out to eat on Sundays but Sunday is the biggest day as far as other activities.
- Needs often come up to change my schedule.
- I haven’t figured out how to take a day off from household duties. Hubby doesn’t take a day off.
- We try to take a day off … but one phone call can change that—and usually does.
- We don’t have a set day off, but we try to have some down time one or two afternoons a week.
- We do what we can’t on Saturday, if it needs to be done immediately.
- Sometimes something comes up in the ministry that does not allow me to take a day off.
- We usually work/do ministry at least a part of every day. We take time away for doctor appointments or to have meals with friends periodically.
- Too busy with homeschooling and ministry.
- Minstry schedule does not usually allow for a full day off. I try for a half day once a week, and the occasional full day when I can.
- We have not been intentional about it or sticking with it.
- It depends on what needs to be done.
- This rarely happens, but some weeks get so demanding with what others need that I can’t find one. I do sometimes try to keep half a day restful if this is the case.
- We try to take days off but there is always something that interrupts
- Mostly I do, but there are occasions that my job does not allow me a day off.
If you DO take a day off, which day is it?
- Monday 40%
- Tuesday 10%
- Wednesday no one
- Thursday 2%
- Friday 10%
- Saturday 14%
- Sunday 25%
Do you believe that the Sabbath Day command in the Ten Commandments is for today?
- Yes. 57%
- No. 32%
- I hadn’t thought about it. 11%
Answer only if you are in a ministry family: do you take a different day off, since Sundays are very busy for you? (46 answered this question.)
- Yes. 74%
- No. 7%
- Sometimes. 20%
If you do NOT regularly take a day off, how do you rest? (36 answered this question.)
- We take short holidays. 28%
- We enjoy our vacation once or twice a year. 17%
- Other. 56%
- I do not feel like I am overworked. Our ministry is quite small. I feel like this survey is better given to the husband than the wife. The problem, of course, is that, “What is work?” Is doing laundry work? Is answering a personal message work? Is asking someone on social media how their dog is doing work?
- Daily rest periods and Sunday afternoon naps.
- Try to take one day off but if the day has to be changed I can’t go too long without some alone time.
- I take rests on days I feel overwhelmed. Take a nap read a book watch a movie.
- Rest at home.
- (A foreign missionary) We don’t rest enough and came back to the States this furlough completely exhausted.
- I try to take a couple of hours here and there. Sometimes I sleep in so I can get caught up.
- We take half day breaks as necessary to do errands or appointments. We also have a coffee out at least once a week.
- By staying at home.
- We take a half-day on Monday and half-day on Friday, which allows my husband to answer necessary correspondence or “clean up” issues from Sunday on Monday morning, and then we do something as a family. We mostly have a four-day homeschool week but we do math and English on Monday morning while Daddy is “working.” We do usually sleep in, have brunch and dinner only, and take a relaxed approach to the day. Also regarding the sabbath question we observe it as a command to rest and cease from our everyday labors, but it’s not always the same day or a 24-hour period. It does include fixing meals and such, but I try to avoid other housework like laundry and bills and shopping.
- I do take short vacations. And Saturday evening through Sunday evening, I try to have the Internet off and not be doing prep work for ministry. I might be teaching Sunday School on Sunday morning or doing something with ladies Bible Study on Saturday, but all my studying and printing etc. will be done ahead to not be last-minute frenetic, to set my heart ready for church. I (usually) do not go on social media during that time. If I were elsewhere, it would be more feasible to have a full Internet fast, but needing the Internet for communications, and with different time zones, I don’t adhere to that. But I do not actively seek out online recreation/time.
- Although I do take a day off from ministry related work, my day “off” is spent doing laundry, housework, and grocery shopping. What is rest?
- Some weeks it’s Monday some weeks it’s Thursday. We try to have some down time each week.
- Sad to say, we don’t do much.
- We try to find days or moments here and there to rest, but dedicating an entire 24-hour period is very difficult in our cross-cultural ministry. We try to set reasonable boundaries, but when someone calls or texts or stops by and needs something, we don’t tell them that we can’t because it’s our day off. We honor Sundays as special days for service and worship, but Sundays are very busy and tiring for us most of the time. I don’t believe the actual laws for honoring the Sabbath are for today, but the principle of setting aside a day for worship and reflection/rest in the Lord still stands.
- Sit at home in quiet and read, take a book on a hike to get away, enjoy time with friends. (I’m single, so sometimes being around people is restful and calming for me.)
- We take a day off each week and a bit longer breaks a few times throughout the year.
As you can tell, my friends are all over the place on this question. Some take time off regularly, and some don’t. Many ministry friends are willing to change their schedule and go help people at the drop of a hat. Two asked the valid question, “What is rest?”
Well, what is rest?
The dictionary definition is: “cause (someone or something) to stop doing a particular activity or stop being active for a period of time in order to relax and get back your strength.” Cambridge Dictionary.
To me, the next important question is about the Sabbath rest. Is this a principle for today—or not?
I was brought up in a family that always attended church on Sundays. We also had several rules for that day. One was that it was usually spent at home and with some kind of rest. It might mean playing games with our grandparents, taking naps, or reading a book, but there was no raucous behavior permitted. From my junior high years on, we attended evening services at church, and that cut our afternoon time to a minimum, especially since we sang in the choir and had a practice before the service.
When I was in college, because of the demands of studies—many quizzes on Mondays—I found it hard to rest at all on Sundays.
As a newly married couple, my husband and I had to figure out our own preferences for Sunday. I remember being in a pastor’s home on a Sunday afternoon, and he turned on the TV to watch a football game. Neither my husband nor I had “indulged” in watching sports on Sundays before. My husband and I had a conversation about this afterwards.
Is it okay to do things on Sundays—or not?
Let’s look into the principle of the Sabbath rest in the Bible and see if we can come to some kind of a conclusion. Are you ready?
The Fourth Commandment says, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).
This is the Old Testament Law, and it explains exactly what was expected: people and even load-bearing beasts were expected not to work on the Sabbath Day—which was Saturday. It was a holy day, meant for worship.
Further, Exodus 31:15b says, whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Let’s go to the New Testament now.
Matthew 12:1- tells the story of Jesus’ disciples plucking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. The Pharisees saw this and criticized them to Jesus for breaking the Jewish law and “working” on the Sabbath. Jesus answered them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day (verses 3-8). So, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and even in the Old Testament, there were times when people broke these laws but were blameless.
Matthew 12 continues to address this subject: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him (Jesus), saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days (verses 10-12). Here, we see that Jesus says it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
There was a blind man, and Jesus made clay and healed him on the Sabbath. Again, the Pharisees were critical. They said, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them (John 9:16; Complete story in verses 6-16).
After the resurrection of Jesus, believers began to gather for worship on the first day of the week, Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).
The Apostle Paul addresses convictions about eating meat offered to idols and the Sabbath in Romans 14. I believe it’s important for us to know what the Bible says. (I’ll skip the part about food.) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it…. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:5-12).
What a concept! If you make Sunday a special rest day or if you don’t, you are responsible to God alone for your actions. No one should judge you whether you do or don’t. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
We find this same teaching in another passage: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days (Colossians 2:16).
The truth is, everyone needs to rest, or they will burn out physically. It’s also true that the New Testament leaves it up to you how you observe Sundays and when you relax.
Thoughts? Please feel free to comment.