Robert Morris is the founding lead senior pastor of Gateway Church, a multi-campus church based in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. Since it began in 2000, the church has grown to more than 39,000 members. Morris is the author of “The Blessed Life,” “Frequency,” “Beyond Blessed” and most recently, “Take the Day Off.” Morris and his wife, Debbie, have three adult children and nine grandchildren.
Why is rest such a timely topic?
Many problems plague America, but we often forget about overworking.
People sleep less and work more than ever.
Morris said the advantages of technology come at a cost.
“In some ways it makes our lives easier, but it also makes us more in touch,” Morris said. “We used to have a work and home phone. Everybody at work, unless it was an emergency, wouldn’t think about calling us in the evenings or on Saturday or Sunday because we were just a society that worked 9 to 5. We’d come home and rest with our families … Now with emails and cellphones, people don’t even think about sending emails in the evenings or on weekends, and our phone goes off and we are so tempted right then.”
What is the Sabbath?
The Sabbath is God’s design for work and rest. It goes back to the creation account in Genesis, when God worked six days and rested on the seventh day.
In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites Ten Commandments, including honoring the Sabbath day.
The literal Hebrew translation of Sabbath means to “cease labor.”
Morris said the fourth commandment is also the forgotten commandment.
“God gives us a top 10 list, and I know those are laws for a peaceful society,” Morris added. “Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Don’t commit adultery. They’re laws, but they’re also principles that help us have a better relationship with God and with others. If we keep them, there are benefits, but if we don’t, there are consequences. The reason I call the Sabbath the forgotten commandment is … every Christian believes in the other nine, but why don’t we think about the fourth commandment of rest?”
For you, what was the hardest thing about taking a day off?
It’s a battle for all of us to trust that we can get more done in six days than in seven.
Over the years, Morris learned that the Sabbath isn’t a suggestion, but something God graciously gives to His children to be used for their good.
“For me, the greatest challenge was trusting that if I took the day off, tomorrow I could get done what I needed to get done and God would bless me to do it,” Morris said. “It came down to a simple matter of trust—to really trust that if I don’t think about this today and get a head start on it … God will give it to me when it’s time, and I can take a day off.”
What does it look like to take a day off?
According to tradition, Jewish rabbis created an additional 39 categories of forbidden labor laws with hundreds of subcategories.
However, Morris said we don’t need to overthink the Sabbath.
“The No. 1 question I get asked is, ‘What do you do on your day off?’” Morris said. “I jokingly respond, ‘That’s the wrong question. The question is not what do I do, it’s what do I not do?’ The simple answer is I don’t do anything associated with work. When you look at the heart of the commandment, what God was saying is, ‘One day a week, don’t work.’ He created this to be a blessing, not a burden. It’s amazing we even have to have a conversation to tell people to take a day off.”
Morris said defining rest is up to each individual.
“People will say, ‘Can I play golf? Can I go to a park? Can I?’” Morris added. “The Bible is silent on that. It doesn’t say, ‘Rest, but don’t play golf, watch movies or ride a jet ski that day.’ He’s just saying don’t work on that day. So what I’ve had to learn is what refreshes me … Sometimes for me, it’s just sitting around relaxing or taking a little trip with my wife.”
How does rest recharge us?
While it’s different for each of us depending on our personalities, Morris shared the four main tanks that need to be recharged on a regular basis.
1. Physical: Exercise, sleep, taking a walk, yard work, etc.
2. Mental: Read things of interest, such as history or fiction, not necessarily faith-based books. Watch a funny movie.
3. Emotional: Find areas that fill you with joy, such as spending time with the people you love.
4. Spiritual: Prayer, solitude, listening to music or reading the Bible.
“They just have to be refilled because we’re pouring out to our family, people we work with and our friends,” Morris said. “We’re constantly feeling emotions when we’re with other people. According to Scripture, what replenishes us is rest.”