Sabbatical Approach To Daily Living

As part of the annual week-long activities for Pentecost Men’s Ministry (PEMEM) – the men’s wing of our dear church, the Church of Pentecost, yesterday, I gave overview of a number of sub-topics, as I handled the topic, “The Faithful Man” in one of our local churches in Kenya.

By the grace of God, I gave overview of what it means to be faithful – “faith-full”; the need to accept your background and history and superimpose each domain with what Christ as a way to galvanizing a Christ-centered identity; handling generational curses by the way of Christ (Galatians 3:13-14); ten legacies to a faithful father can leave for his generations; and a concept I refer to as “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living”.

In this short article, I seek to discuss this concept of “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living”.

Sabbath is a divine principle established by the Lord. The essence of the Sabbath is not just the setting aside of a particular day to rest from work (sometimes whiles our minds wander with worries and anxieties).

Most importantly, Sabbath covers the whole idea of periodically pausing – taking a “SELAH” – to reflect on our lives in the light of the Lord, to rest the mind, and to rest the body. The ultimate Sabbath rest is to place faith in Christ and His Word (Jeremiah 6:16; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:8-12).

We are even called upon to give our animals and farmlands periodic Sabbaths so they can have fallow period to renew and refresh. Even our vehicles need Sabbath – by taking them for servicing, renewing of oil etc. – to avoid breakdown and to optimize their performance.

It is within the spirit of Sabbath and in the background of the “Principle of Effective Learning” that I have coined a principle I refer to as “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living” (SATDL). The application of this principle in my personal life over the years, especially since I entered full-time ministry 12 years ago, has been of great help to me.

According to the “Principle of Effective Learning”, for every input we make, we should take at least same amount of time we used in making the input to generate output. Output in this context is defined as the combination of reflecting on the input as well as implementing and sharing the insights gained from reflecting on the input.

What I have added to this principle to generate “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living” is the aspect of restful meditation as the broader atmosphere for reflection, implementing and sharing of insight in inputs.

The core of “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living” is the need to approach our daily activities in piecemeal – in installment – punctuated with restful reflection and meditation.

In simple terms, for a series of activities or “to dos” one has in a given period of time, he/she should put them into blocks of activities and create transitions between them.

That means, after diligently undertaking a bloc of activity, one should come into transition – a period to rest, meditate, and reflect on the block of activity done so far while taking notes on insights from the reflection for implementation and sharing (say through mentoring of others).

In fact, for the Christian, this is a period to generate prayer topics as we restfully think through our actions. So, for instance, if as a leader of a local church, you return from the field, you need to move into transition for a period before another field work.

It is not a wonder that, even in reading the Psalms, we are brought to periods in our reading called “SELAH” – to pause, reflect, pray, and generate insights.

From health perspective, “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living” has benefit in decreasing stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, etc.), and increasing happiness hormones (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins especially). This readjustment in levels of these hormones resulting from “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living”, translates into great boost in immune system, improvement of concentration & alertness and slowing of the rate of aging.

Let me conclude this article by giving some practical examples of “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living”:

  1. It is better to eat small amounts of food at intervals of say 3 hours during the day than to starve and sit by a huge amount of food in the evening or even at lunch time.
  2. It is better to give your spouse regular updates of how your day is going especially when the two of you are distance apart than to wait to come home late and force a “date” (chatting or debriefing time) which is a challenge because, often spouses are both tired from work.
  3. It is better to give an overview of many topics in a short space of time than to force to treat many topics in details within that time.
  4. It is better to give an “elevator pitch” (punchlines) to a seemingly distracted audience than to read a long speech to them.
  5. It is better, especially during Sunday church service, to pick a single concept and treat it into details with adequate supporting evidence, illustrations, application and prayer topics than to rush through a tall list of many concepts with superficial approach to explaining them.
  6. It is better to meditate on a single passage of scripture a day as part of daily devotional life than to rush through reading three or four chapters in superficial “tick the box” manner.
  7. It is better, as a student, to study a particular topic, then to pause and reflect on the topic, jot down your reflections, think through how the topic applies to daily living, illustrate with self-made pictures, diagrams, drawings etc., than to jump from one major topic to the next with a “chew-pour-pass” (rote learning) approach – that leads only to head knowledge without insights.
  8. It is better to keep a journal – notes of daily activities (inputs) and outcomes – than to wait for half-year or annual time of reporting to attempt recalling all you have been doing for the reporting period in view.

It is on this note that, I recommend for various institutions to incorporate “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living” into their culture; workers can be given at least 30 minutes of – no talking, no gadgets – quite or siesta time, say an hour after lunch break. Many “8 to 5” workers are effectively productive for only few hours due to exhaustion.

This approach is even more important for students and children in schools; the 7am to 5pm marathon approach to teaching often encounters counter-productivity (diminishing returns) after lunch time and thus, siesta break become handy for restoring alertness and concentration. Alternatively, teachers should give children no home work so they can have adequate time to rest their body and brain over the night.

Let me sign off by restating that, clearly “Sabbatical Approach to Daily Living” is very helpful and makes the life of a person more impactful, excelling, productive and yet relaxed and restful.

Indeed, ‘For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said: “By repentance and rest you would be saved; your strength would lie in quiet confidence…’ (Isaiah 30:15). SELAH.

Written by Apostle S. K. Fianko-Larbi (Kenya National Head, The Church of Pentecost)

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