The Sabbath Is God’s Gift—Even to Pastors

Editors’ note: 

For more reading on long-term faithfulness in ministry with practical wisdom from veteran pastors, see Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime from The Gospel Coalition.

In this video, John Starke explains that pastors shouldn’t try to outwork God.


The following is a lightly edited transcript provided by a transcription service. Please check video before quoting.

If you are just coming out of seminary or maybe just beginning pastoral ministry for the first time, I would suggest that you don’t have just a theological justification for why you don’t need to rest. If you if you look at the Scriptures, you might be able to have a theological reason why you don’t follow the Sabbath laws, but even the Sabbath laws when God calls his people to rest, he says when you rest do it because I did it.

So if you want just like a small picture of the character of God, just a small one, you can go back to the first week of creation and see where God worked six days and he rested. Then he calls his people, “Look I did it, and I enjoyed it. You should do it too.” So there’s a vision of not just how to take a break, but really how to be like God. So while we may be free from Sabbath laws, even in the New Testament, we’re not free from trying to be like God.

God calls us to be holy as he is holy, and one of the most ordinary ways we can do that is working as hard as God worked those first six days and then taking a rest and a day of delight in the way that God did. But even as we’re doing that, if you notice in the creation narrative, God works six days and then he rests not because he’s tired and not because it was a lot to build that sun so he needed to take a day of rest. It wasn’t a reaction to being exhausted, nor was it a precaution against exhaustion. God is not thinking about week two and the need to take a day to prepare for that. No, God is resting for delight.

And so the reason why God takes a rest is on the sixth day everything is so good that he wants to take a day of delight, take a day of joy. God is saying, I value and enjoy the Sabbath so much I want you to take delight and joy in that day. So really God is giving us the theological justification to have the best day of the year once a week. But oftentimes we want to prove ourselves through our work and we want to find meaning ultimately in our work. So we end up finding theological justifications on why not to rest, but God has given us a reason to rest. Even from when you’re starting off and you’re church planting or when you have young kids, take a day of rest, a day of delight, as a gift.