The Antidote to Burnout: how to stage a Sabbath RevoltJeremy Bryan - 28 Feb 2019
Recently, a Buzzfeed article from Anne Helen Petersen went viral. In it, the author described burnout as “the base temperature” of millennials.
Her post prompted many responses, saying that burnout is pervasive; not just for millennials, but across generations. A chorus of voices rose, saying in essence: “We are a weary people here in the West. Work is our life. We know no other way.”
A few years ago—in response to an awareness of this weariness - my wife and I decided to uproot our family and take an extended, unpaid sabbatical in another city.
We wanted to take Sabbath seriously and see what would happen if we let go of the life we knew— our work, school and church.
This decision undid us. Once we landed, we didn’t have the to-dos that had provided such predictability and comfort.
Rest, far from easy, became really hard work. Without our former rhythms and roles, we felt naked.
So, without internet at home, we hiked, prayed, danced, laughed, cried, and sang our way through the discomfort. We spent a lot of time in reading and reflection.
Tears were allowed to rise to the surface, and spill over. We found that joy was not estranged from our suffering, but included all of our unwanted, neglected emotions. A hearty, tender happiness began to well up from the deep belly of our being. God’s peace slowly began to infuse us.
Silence and solitude became guides—for ourselves and our kids—on a narrow path that spilled us out, with a few bumps and scratches, into the broad places of the Father’s affection for us as his children.
This Sabbath Revolt required a depth of dependence I didn’t know I needed. A release of control I didn’t think possible.
And God provided like crazy. One-off opportunities and part-time work paid the bills. We cultivated friendships, old and new, and joined a church that prioritized prayer.
And in this community, we were able to catch our breath, awaken to God’s love for us in fresh ways, and envision a sustainable, hopeful future.
It took a full year-and-a-half to really reckon with the reality of rest for our family; and to learn how it hides us in Christ through practices of prayer, silence, solitude, stillness, friendship, and hospitality.
We learned, over the course of that season, that sometimes the only way to work your field is to let it lie fallow.
Amazing growth happens when we let go.
Four years on, and back in our old stomping grounds, we’re still beginners on a Sabbath sojourn. We learned that we’re not meant to be a weary people, but Sabbath sons and daughters, unleashing rest for ourselves and our neighbours.
Our “base temperature” is no longer burnout, but delight.
We are each called to flourish as followers of Jesus. This flourishing begins by receiving God’s delight in us, by making time and space to receive it.
How might the Holy Spirit be asking you to stage a Sabbath Revolt in your life? A day a week? A daily practice of silence and solitude (even ten minutes twice a day is powerful)? An extended experiment with Sabbath?
As we do, God will multiply what he’s put in us, as we serve and host others.
Get equipped with a whole bunch of prayer ideas that help you take time with God - check out our Take Time Prayer Page.