When it’s time to stop — President Obama, Bob Marley, and the gift of Sabbath keeping 

“People who are trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?” — President Obama quoting Bob Marley

It sounds like a great argument — not taking a day off because the forces of making the world worse aren’t taking a day off — but it’s terribly wrong for several reasons. 

1. We don’t take our cues from the bad guys.  It’s always bad practice to mimic the bad guys. We can learn from them, but we have to be careful when we do. Because it’s possible that by copying the bad guys we may become bad guys ourselves. In fact, that’s what usually happens. There is something in their practices which seems so great but makes them so bad. And not stopping is one of them. 

2. A refusal to take time off is narcissistic. When we think that we are indispensable, we are always wrong. Always. Every job I’ve left replaced me, even when I thought I was essential. I’ve even watched TV shows that replaced main characters I thought were essential — without missing a beat and even becoming better in the process. Every President is replaceable, too. So, taking time off is actually essential to keep me from thinking too highly about myself and my importance. I need the perspective that only time off can give. 

3. We weren’t built to keep on going without breaks. Neither our bodies or our minds were built to keep on going. Without adequate rest, we not only become inefficient, we become dangerous. One of my favorite documentaries is called Hands On A Hard Body which focuses on a competition/publicity stunt hosted my a Toyota dealer in Texas. A group of people compete to win a Toyota Hard Body truck. The winner is the person who can keep their hand in the truck the longest. In other words, no sleeping. It’s a fascinating exploration of how fragile our bodies and minds are and how necessary rest is. That’s just how we are made. I think the Creator knew what he was doing when he made us this way. 

4. When we don’t stop, we become tyrants, forcing others to keep going. When we refuse to stop or feel that we can’t or shouldn’t stop, we become slaves. And in the process, we begin to think of others in the same way. If I can’t take a break, then you can’t either. And since I’m able to push myself so hard, you should be able to as well. 

The Sabbath is a gift. By protecting us from those things in us and around us that would enslave is, it frees us to live life as a gift and not as a chore. By showing us how unnecessary we really are, we become less frantic, more humble, and now enjoyable. By giving us time off from work, it opens us space for relationships. Besides, without free time, you can’t really enjoy the beautiful things of this world, like a leisurely walk, a meal with friends, or the music of Bob Marley.