Jared Callahan: Taking Back Sabbath

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by Sharon Ayala

His senior year at PLNU, Jared Callahan (05) had a week where he blocked out his schedule to every half hour. He was penciling in meeting times, work time, time to study, even bathroom time. It was then that a voice in his head told him “this is wrong.”

top_rightBut he shut up that voice because there was just too much to do. When he began working in ministry (he is now San Diego First Church of the Nazarene’s pastor to youth and their families), his first few years in the church were again controlled by his calendar, and he was averaging an 80-hour workweek.

This past year, when First Church went through a “Year of Discipleship,” with one month dedicated specifically to the idea and commandment of Sabbath, Callahan wondered, “Why aren’t we living this?”

It was then that he decided to take Sabbath seriously.

Callahan spends an intentional Sabbath – once a week – sleeping in, being creative, cooking for friends and family, and taking quiet strolls. His practices may not mirror strict Jewish tradition, but he has made a commitment to consecrate one day a week as “set apart.”

For Callahan, setting aside one day has bled into all seven. He realized that by chipping away at his weekend activities, he was reaping the benefits of pruning back excess in his life.

“A lot of growth may seem good but isn’t beneficial,” said Callahan. “When you prune things out of your life, like a tree, it has enough energy to grow.”

By prioritizing Sabbath, Callahan ended up enjoying weeks that were more balanced, full of rich time with God, and had the freedom for rest built into them. It was then that he realized part of the intent of a Sabbath day – to inform the rest of our weeks as God-centered.

“We are created for so much more than busyness,” he said. “If you’ll just slow down, you might encounter God in ways you never imagined.”

These days, Callahan is “planning less and participating more.” He looks forward to each of his Sabbath days. In fact, he needs them.

“The narrative of God demands that we stop because it reminds us that we are not God,” he said. “Breaking the desire to achieve success by stopping my productivity weekly keeps God as the only god of my life. If I do not stop, then all the other activities I participate in, good or bad, become idols. We have been called to dwell in God, not produce things for God. Jesus didn’t die so we could do things for Him.”

 

Here is Jared’s list of practical ways to practice Sabbath now:

> Light candles in prayer.
> Go on walks.
> Make a good meal with others.
> Sleep well.
> Choose a common act in your day (opening doors, hearing a phone ring, washing hands, stopping at traffic lights, or brushing your teeth), and pray at those moments.
> Experience nature.
> Thin out/prune – delete something from your list that is undone.
> Go a day with no purchasing.
> Pray about every decision you have to make in a day.
> Be careful to avoid taking pride in busyness.
> Drive with no music and just pray.
> Memorize Scripture.
> Don’t use technology for one day.

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