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The Sabbath (again)

I suck at Sabbath. I’m really good at a lot of things, but taking a Sabbath is not one of them. I don’t know if you can relate. I used to say that I’m a recovering workaholic. Now I’m not so sure of the recovering part. I am coming to believe that I simply work too hard and too much. And even though I am generally in favor of change, changing one’s behavior is hard.

When I was 12, I opened up a neighborhood bike repair shop in my basement. While the rest of the kids were at the pool or running through the woods, I was wrenching on bikes. That winter, I took two jobs shoveling snow; one for a multi-family house and the other at my church. By high school, I was not only in school, but also working 24-32 hours at the grocery store and heavily involved with the fire department. In college, I took a 21-22 credit hour load, worked 40 hours a week as a department assistant, another 20 at the grocery store, and four 6-hour shifts a month at another fire department. 

Today, I’m a full-time tech director, a regular contributor to two trade magazines, I write three posts a week on this site, host a weekly podcast, and in my spare time, organize all of the local CTL meet ups in SoCal and cover six trade shows a year. This is not bragging; this is just what I do. The good news is, after thirty years of running at this pace, I’m beginning to ask why. 

A few weeks ago at Gurus, Nancy Beech talked about the need for a Sabbath. I admit, at first I was thinking, “Yadda, yadda, yadda, another talk on taking a Sabbath. Sounds good, but I’m busy.” It’s easy for me (and perhaps you) to dismiss the idea of a Sabbath because I am (we are) high-capacity people who enjoy working a lot and being busy. But as Nancy talked, she kept hitting me upside the head with comments that became increasingly hart to ignore. 

For example:

We need to stop trying to be God. There is a humility required to stop and rest. Will I trust God enough to obey His command to stop and rest?

Or this one:

This is a gift God has given us…we need to receive it. It should not be the one commandment we brag about breaking.

Finally, this might be the simplest, easiest way to understand what a Sabbath means for us:

The idea is to stop doing the necessary and create some space in your life.

It was concepts like that that really caused me to stop and re-think my daily routine. Nancy reminded us that as TDs, we are process guys and we should be able to come up with a process that enables us to take some time to rest and recharge. Finally; someone who gets me tells me how to think about the Sabbath! 

So freshly motivated, I started thinking about my weekly process. And I discovered that if I moved a few things around, I could actually create a roughly 24-hour block where I wouldn’t have to do anything. Except take my daughter to school for a few more weeks. Otherwise, during that time, I really didn’t have to do anything. And that’s how we need to think of the Sabbath. A time where we don’t have to do something. We could do it, but we choose not to.

I know it seems scary to not do things for a 24-hour period. You just saw my schedule; you know I’m right there with you. But this past week, I finally cracked and had to take some time off. I was completely finished, and I knew it. So I decided to take a Sabbath. It started as a morning, grew into the afternoon, then evening, then into another whole day. And you know what? By the end of the second day, I actually started to feel almost human again! I found myself in a conversation with my daughter and I wasn’t stressing about how much time it was taking up (this is a sad commentary on my life, by the way). 

What did I not do during that period of time? I didn’t write anything; I didn’t edit or post the podcast (sorry, episode 100 is a lost cause now); I didn’t check Twitter or Facebook; I didn’t check my e-mail; I didn’t return phone calls or texts (sorry if you were trying to reach me). What did I do? I watched some TV, a few movies, took a nap, listened to music, cooked some amazing food and read. Your idea of a Sabbath may be different. 

Though I’ve written about this before, I want to again encourage you to consider rearranging your schedule in such a way that you can take 24 hours off to just be. Rob Bell said that in Velvet Elvis; we need a day to just be and not do. Nancy Beech said we need to pass through the day, not pass it by. God said we need to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. 

Maybe it’s time I (we?) really get on that…

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