Give Rest, Teach Rest

This is the ninth post in my series reflecting on ONS. For more posts in this series, check out the series frontpage: InterVarsity's Orientation for New Staff 

Today is the Sabbath day for our New Staff.

Giving our Staff a day off in the middle of ONS is an incredible thing.

We fly them in from all across the country. We only have a limited amount of time to equip them for the rigors of ministry on campus and in God's kingdom. Every minute counts.

On top of this, every minute costs. Every day these Staff are at ONS costs money. Housing and food. Salary. When you're talking about 160 people, these charges add up.

Rest is inefficient.

I thought, for a minute, what if they just shortened ONS? What if we were only here for 9 days, instead of 10? What if we just powered through and made it work?

Rest feels like weakness.

Immediately, the practical implications of cutting the Sabbath jumped out at me. Staff would be too tired to get all the content. Staff would start pulling away from each other relationally. We would have to take it easier on the other 9 days. It would take Staff longer to recover after the ONS experience and get back to fund development and ministry on campus, delaying application and diminishing the impact of the training.

Rest is starting to look better and better.

And then I thought of one more reason to keep the Sabbath day. Sabbath is a gift from God, a gift infrequently unwrapped in the world of American ministry. We have a habit of harvesting our fields all the way to the edges.

Student work is never done. Fund development is never done. You could always do more. By taking a day off, here in the middle, before the work is done, we're teaching these young Staff how to live with that tension.

Last night, as I was sending my Small Group off for the Sabbath, I remembered the words from this Psalm:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
The builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
The watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise up early and stay up late,
Toiling for food to eat,
For the Lord gives rest to those he loves.

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