by Barb Mazarakos
We’ve all heard the old joke about Pastors only working one day a week. However you only need to spend a few minutes speaking with any member of clergy to know that statement couldn’t be more wrong. Around planning and leading worship services there are visits to hospitals and homebound members, baptisms, weddings, Bible studies to lead, and meetings to attend-and this only scratches the surface. We know that the fourth commandment tells us to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” which leads me to wonder- since many people interpret the Sabbath Day as Sunday, when do Pastors rest?
If we look at the true spirit of keeping the Sabbath, we might realize that it doesn’t specifically have to be a Sunday, though that is what tradition would lead us to think. What we really are meant to do is to take one day a week (at least!) to cease our work for the purpose of earning a living and spend it in God’s Word. Honoring the Sabbath this way is to be a testimony that God is enough to meet our needs. It doesn’t matter how much we labor or how much we earn; without God, none of it will ever be enough. So, we are to take a day each week just to relish in Him- in His goodness, in the ways He has blessed our lives, and in service and mercy to others.
Therefore, many members of the clergy try to take a “day off” (if that’s possible!) during the week. Not only do our pastors need to do this to live the example they preach to us on Sunday morning, but they need the time to relax, refresh, and remember God’s works in their own lives. In a time when modern technology lends to us the expectation that anyone with a phone should be available to us 24 hours a day to answer even our smallest needs, we tend to sometimes be unreasonable in our expectations of our pastors as well. When we feel bad or have a family emergency or just have a question we want answered (or need an article for an upcoming newsletter!) we may feel put off if we don’t get an instant response. And rest assured, whenever possible in times of emergency, pastors will do all they can to respond to you quickly. But occasionally, if it takes a little longer to get that email response you were hoping for, just remember- our pastors need their recharge as well. How else can we expect them to lead us by example if we don’t allow them to remember the Sabbath each week as well?