This story appears in FCA Magazine’s January/February 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
The fourth commandment is not a popular one in the coaching profession. I’ve seen it time after time in my 30-plus years as a coach.
Chatting with opposing coaches during pregame warm-ups, it’s clear many of us are tired, grumpy and maybe even negative, paranoid or fearful. Don’t get me wrong—most of us love what we do and enjoy getting ready for a game, but we’re just too tired to “ball out” to the best of our potential because we’re depleted.
In any profession, it’s easy to reach the point of “diminishing returns,” where our drive for achievement is sabotaged by our body’s divinely created limits. We become drained physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually when we don’t honor one of God’s most precious commodities—the Sabbath rest.
More work, more hours and more recruiting leads to less sleep, less workout and family time, and—most detrimental—less alone time with God.
In Exodus 20:8-11, God commands us to honor the Sabbath by keeping it holy. He tells us that we should work six days, but on the seventh day we honor the Sabbath by resting from our work.
Some say the Sabbath is Sunday. Others say Saturday. Some businesses close on Sundays because they’ve chosen that day to celebrate the Sabbath principle. Dallas Cowboys coaching legend Tom Landry desired to honor Jesus Christ, but he once reminded people that he worked (long hours) on Sundays. As do many pastors I know, some of them preaching three sermons on any given “Sabbath.”
So, who’s right? Sunday or Saturday? Or any other day for that matter?
Colossians 2:16 reminds us not to get caught up on a specific day of the week. And, as Romans 14:5 explains, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
Jesus was confronted by religious leaders with accusations of breaking the Sabbath. He promptly pointed out their hypocrisy regarding lovingly serving people in need on the Sabbath day. In Mark 2:27 He reminds them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
Let’s face it. Many of us coaches work long, grueling hours, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. While we want to honor the Sabbath, we wonder what that looks like in our circumstances and how it might align with what Scripture teaches.
Let me give you something to consider.
First, God desires and commands us to honor the Sabbath because He did. As we read through Genesis 1 and 2, we see an amazing pattern from God. He works six days to create the earth. At the end of each day, He stops to examine His work, seeing that it was “good” in Genesis 1:4, 1:10, 1:12, 1:18, 1:21 and 1:25. The same pattern for six consecutive days. Then, in Genesis 1:31, God looks at everything He created and calls it “very good.” Finally, in Genesis 2:3 (NKJV), “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
This “rest” principle set from the beginning of the universe is still true today. The word Sabbath means “to cease” or “to rest.” Cease from what? I believe we’re to cease from our work trying to earn God’s favor.
Anyone who trusts Jesus as Savior and Lord ceases from his own attempts of righteousness and falls into the arms of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. For the rest of our time as believers on this earth, we can continually celebrate this precious Sabbath every moment, just like God did every day in creating the world. He stops and sees it is good.
Whether it’s church or work, Sunday or Saturday, you should have a special day to celebrate Christ’s finished work. However, personally, I believe it’s also important to have a daily Sabbath where God and I get to celebrate Jesus’ work with a daily rest consisting of studying His Word, prayer, or worship with one or a few fellow believers. Other daily opportunities can be through a Sabbath workout or a walk where all my focus is on Jesus. It also might be through taking a day off from working out or calling recruits. A Sabbath celebration might consist of fasting from eating, TV, social media or your phone.
If you only go through the motions half-heartedly with this, there will be major diminishing returns on your walk with Christ, which can and will short-circuit your health, work production, marriage, relationships, and intimacy with Him.
Always remember: God created us in His image, and He decided from the beginning that rest was “very good.” We can trust in His model that good things will come from rest.