It seems as though every day I read an email from a youth worker who is tired, burnt-out, on the verge of quitting. There’s so much of ministry life that is exhausting. I know it firsthand…it’s real and it’s ugly.

Many people in ministry aren’t even slowing down enough to be faithful to God’s call for Sabbath. The best advice I received from a ministry mentor was to faithfully guard and protect that day of rest. Without an intentional guard, it’s easy to slip into justifying non-Sabbath actions (i.e. “I’m just going to pop into the office”… “I’m just going to check my email”… “this doesn’t count as work, it’s just prep”… “I’m so far behind—I just need to catch up”).

My dear friend, Matt McGill blogged about working on his Sabbath ( It’s rare for Matt to violate his day of rest, but I think you’ll appreciate his candor and reflection:

“I worked for two hours today, on my day off, the time set aside to be Sabbath.

Instead of spending focused time with God and getting some exercise, I answered emails, wrote a letter to a student, did some future planning, evaluated the weekend.

About every 10 minutes, I paused for a moment and thought, “I really should stop.” But I didn’t. I kept going. And going.

I was driven by the need to do “just a little more” while chasing the false hope that it’ll take “just a minute.”

Finally, I tore myself away and spent some time with God. I moved from disappointment to repentance to refection.

As humans, our actions are more than instinct and impulse. We have the capacity to have thoughts about our thoughts. Here’s the painful insight that followed:

Each time I paused while working, I beat back the sanity with false guilt, “I sucked yesterday, I wasn’t good enough and need to work harder today to make up for lacking.”

YEESH and DOUBLE YEESH: I sure didn’t like that. The act was bad enough. The motive was like whisky on an open wound.

It’s astonishing how a lack of trust in God can multiply and create a greater rift.”

I can’t relate to whisky on a wound, but I can sure relate to not feeling good enough about myself and thinking that more work may pacify pain.

What about you? How are you about maintaining a day of rest?