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A Sabbath from Being Indispensable

I so readily fall prey to the all-too-human compulsion to be indispensable. I want to be needed, to have my contribution be valued, to be someone people look up to as a leader, a wise person, a good friend. My primary leadership mantra has always been to raise up leaders to come after you who can do the job better – but it is oh so hard when I want to be the savior, the one who figured it out and made things happen, the one who is indispensable. It’s so much safer to be the one who can do it all, to whom people come to fill all sorts of needs.

But I have failed on all fronts. And that massive, horrendous failure has left me feeling feeling worthless and hopeless, All I want to do is crawl into a cave, lick my wounds, and growl at anyone who tries to poke their head in to check on me. And this is what I have been doing.

But the funny thing is – I found Jesus sitting in that cave, waiting for me. I found Him waiting to wipe my tears, to embrace me in his love and grace, to listen to my tantrums. And once we made it through that process, He is there to reassure me that my worth has nothing to do with my work. I am indispensable because of who He created me to be, not what I can do.

This year is my Sabbath from doing. I am taking a rest from “ministry,” from leadership, from DOING STUFF. I am focusing on the now, resting in God’s promises, and attempting to experience this year-long sabbath with “rhythms, intentionality, and expectation” (Sabbath Keeping, Lynne Baab, page 102).

Seeing this time as a time to let my field lie fallow has been energizing for me. Instead of feeling guilty because I am not using the gifts that God has given to me, I am enjoying the process of resting. Is it because there is still that part inside of me that wants to be useful, and knowing that this time of silence is temporary makes it bearable? Perhaps there is some of that – but I am truly enjoying the peacefulness of being that field, used to exhaustion and now sitting, allowing the Spirit to shower it (me!!) with love, grace, and encouragement in preparation for the next season of growing.

And I notice – I’m not cowering in my cave any more. I am indispensable – to God. Is it enough? In the depth of my heart, I know it is enough. I will likely still go through times when I feel like I need to DO STUFF, but I hope I will do it with a spirit of ministry – love and grace – and not from trying to be in control of what people think of me.

“…on the Sabbath [year] we deliberately remember that we have ceased trying to be God and instead have put our lives back into his control.” (Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, Marva Dawn, page 76, brackets mine)

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4 comments on “A Sabbath from Being Indispensable

  1. I hear you, Mona — I really do, and more than you could possibly know. But from one indispensability addict to another… this CFDM program is an awful lot of DOING, too… and blogging… and it all feels good, because it’s not the SAME doing as the other stuff. But I wonder: what does the prospect of EXTENDING your Sabbath year into a second year AFTER the conclusion of CFDM do for you?

    This question comes at the end of a looooonnngggg Sabbath Day of realllllyyyy struggling with “not doing.” Personally, the prospect of doing this for a whole year with no “ministry,” no reading assignments, no program of study, no therapeutic blogging, and so on makes me want to throw up. This is TOUGH!

    • I agree – it’s going to be extremely hard at the end of this program to figure out my own rhythms with God when I don’t have a reading list, Nudge Sheets, and papers – and you all to keep me on my toes. I know the feeling you are describing – the desire to keep at this after our safeguards are gone, but the fear that it won’t “stick.” That we’ll be back where we were before we started, but it’ll feel worse because we know what we’re missing.

      I may continue my “Sabbath Year.” It may look very different than it does now. Or I may jump back into “ministry” with renewed energy. We shall see what this next year brings. Stay tuned. 🙂

  2. Well said, Mona. When I was forced to accept that I am permanently disabled, I didn’t know how to rest. It took three years [and a full-on personality fracture while hospitalized for sepsis] for me to adjust to the now unavoidable fact that I literally have four hours less per day than the average adult (I need 11-12 hours; scheduled doses of Ritalin keep me wakeful, but I am still functionally narcoleptic). So I’ve learned to sleep… But I’m learning that rest is foundationally different from inactivity–and it’s often more complicated, too.
    Thanks for sharing your insights!

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