Sabbath Practices to Renew Your Soul


We all know: “You can’t draw water from an empty well.” And ministry is a water-depleting adventure, in the best sense of that metaphor. We give out of our “good treasure” to others. And we need a significant “inlet” for our spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing if we’re going to keep our “outlet” flowing. An empty well affects not only our congregation, but our family, friends, and even our own soul. As we continue to celebrate the Easter Season, maybe we can carve out space to replenish our spiritual well.

This week I paused long enough to recognize that my well is bone-dry. I have nothing left to give, so I must tend to filling my soul before I can re-engage in ministry. I invite you to pause right now as well—consider your own well. Are you on empty? Half-full? Full?

If, like me, your well is not filled to overflowing, it’s time to consider some Sabbath practices that will bear fruit in your relationships. This week I found myself drawn to two resources on my shelf: Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline by Lauren F. Winner and Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. In his Introduction, Muller writes:

“Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. …And for want of rest, our lives are in danger.”

Sabbath practices are not the absence of work. rather, they are activities designed to nourish our soul, to connect us with our creator and one another, and to renew our spirit for the work that is yet to come.

In this Easter season, I’m committing myself to practicing Sabbath—in the quiet moments of my day, by making time for family and friends, and by discovering what it is that renews and refreshes my soul. These can be simple practices, including:

  • Create a Sabbath Box—A Sabbath Box can be a physical or mental space to encounter God as we begin our time of rest and renewal. Wayne Muller describes a two-fold purpose for the Sabbath Box. The first is to place into this box anything that will distract us from Sabbath time, such as devices and technology. The second is to place into it the things that are currently “unfinished” and might be weighing upon us. While the items we place in the Sabbath Box will be picked back up, this practice offers an intentional beginning and end for our Sabbath time, and provides the internal and external space for us to be present to God, self, and others.
  • Give Your Mind a Fill-Up—Take the time to read a book, watch a movie or television series, or listen to a podcast. During a busy season of ministry, these activities get pushed to the backburner. So let’s do something to engage our creative brain in a unique way, expose us to different thoughts and ideas, and invite us to set aside the cares and worries of ministry.
  • Immerse In Nature—Take a walk and observe the beauty of God’s creation, especially at sunrise and sunset. Nature is a wonderful way to recognize God’s presence, and to immerse in peace and quiet. In the early mornings, we can observe the sunrise and marvel at the beauty of a new day. In the evening, the sunset offers a time to reflect on all that has been during the day, the ways God revealed himself to us, and the promise of rest and relaxation. As we watch flowers bloom, lawns return from dormancy, and gardens begin to grow, we acknowledge the cycle of life and are renewed in spirit.
  • Commit to “Friend and Family Time”—Pause in the busyness of your life and think about what you like to do with friends and family. Is it a game night? Is it attending the theater, symphony, or movies? How about a nice dinner out? Is it just being present to one with another, sharing experiences and stories? Whatever it is, make time for it this week and month. As we spend time with others, we renew our spirit and soul and deepen our relationships with them.
  • Establish (or re-establish) Date Night—With your spouse or significant other, set aside time to talk about your lives, your family, and your plans. Rejoice in your relationship and consider the future.
  • Discover (or re-discover) Hobbies, Interests, and Joys—What is it that brings you joy? What do you long to be doing when you are in the midst of the busy season of ministry? Spend time doing that which relaxes you.

Sabbath time is a time for rest and renewal. It is not merely the actions of prayer and worship; nor is it relegated to Sundays. As ministry leaders, we’re challenged to make room for, find, and experience Sabbath time throughout our week. I pray that your Easter season will be filled with rest, renewal, and delight as you (re-)discover Sabbath time.

If you would like help as you explore what it means to find and enter into Sabbath, reach out to connect with a Vibrant Faith Ministry Leadership Coach. Just CLICK HERE for more information. Coaching is an intentional process that moves you forward into the future you long for.  

Rosina Hendrickson is a member of Vibrant Faith’s Coaching Team. She’s the Training and Events Coordinator for Liturgy Training Publications and the Coordinator of Family Faith Formation at St. Thomas the Apostle, both in Chicago, Illinois. She also facilitates STEP courses through the University of Notre Dame, a platform for online adult formation.


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