Part five of an eleven-part series on “Habits of Highly Successful People”
Habit #4 – A Successful Person Recognizes His Total Dependence on God
By Kevin Riggs
I live my life over-scheduled and I under-rested. I feel like the rabbit I in Alice in Wonderland who, while running sporadically, says, “I’m late. I’m late, for a very important date. I’m late. I’m late. I’m late.” If I keep up this pace, it will result in emotional stress and physical exhaustion—but I can’t help it. I need to stay busy.
Is the busy lifestyle what Jesus meant by the abundant life? Is winning the rat race what success is all about? Is this how God intended me to spend my time?
God said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” To “remember” means “to observe without lapse” or “to hold as a present and continuing priority.” The word “Sabbath” literally means “rest” and the meaning behind “holy” is “to set apart and teat as sacred.”
The principle behind this command is that God wants me to make it a top priority to set apart one day out of seven for Him.
Myths Concerning Time
The problems I face don’t compare to the stress and dangers the Israelites were living under. They were in the wilderness trying to survive. Every day was adventure. Every day was a battle between life and death. Yet, God told them to rest one day out of seven. Obeying this commandment was a statement of faith. It was saying: Lord, we are depending on You to meet our needs. By setting one day aside every week, the Israelites were acknowledging that every day belonged to the Lord.
Is the way l schedule my life a statement of my faith in God? When I try to justify my workaholism, I usually argue one or more of the following myths.
If l had more time, l could accomplish everything I need to accomplish.
If I am not careful, I will treat Sunday like any other day because I am trying to find more time to do what I think needs to be done. If there were 28 hours in a day, I tell myself, then I could finish all my projects.
Not long ago I had a revelation of sorts. I was feeling overwhelmed because of all I had to do when it dawned on me: If there isn’t enough time in the day to do what needs to be done anyway, then taking one day off per week is not going to hurt. Since there will always be more to do, taking a break will not negatively affect the outcome.
No one is as busy as I am.
Everyone has jobs and families and hobbies and children and sports and church and meetings. Everyone has the same 24 hours per day. Furthermore, as busy as I think I am, Jesus was busier. Yet, every day He went off by Himself to pray, and every Sabbath He was found worshiping in the synagogue. If Jesus needed a day off how much more do I?
Being busy is important.
There is a strong temptation to equate my value as a person with what I do for a living. The biggest mistake I can make is to think I am irreplaceable. Once I missed a business meeting at my church so I could take my daughter out. To everyone’s surprise, or at least to my surprise, the business meeting went fine without me, and Katherine and I had a great time.
I know God ordained work, and I know working hard is honorable. But I also must confess that being a workaholic is a sign of my lack of faith in God. Placing my value as a person on my busy schedule instead of in the image of God is an insult to God.
I am too busy to take a break.
When I take one week off, I get three weeks behind. But the busier I am and the more hectic the pace, the more important it is that I observe the Sabbath. The more stress I feel and the more exhausted I am and the more depressed I become, the more I need to keep the Sabbath. God knew what He was doing when He said to take off one day in seven.
“Quiet Time” is a waste of time.
Working seven days a week doesn’t make me more productive. It does, however, make me more grumpy. Too much time may be the devil’s workshop, but God did say, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Cicero said, “He does not seem to me to be a free man who does not sometimes do nothing.”
The Fourth Commandment involves more than where I spend a few hours on Sunday morning. It has to do with how I live my life every day. I believe this Commandment is still a statement of faith. Obedience is a declaration of my total dependence on God.
Thus, the fourth habit is as follows: A highly successful person recognizes his total dependence on God to meet his needs. The successful person demonstrates his dependence on God by setting aside one day per week as completely different from all the others.
What should I do on this day? How do I keep it holy? What are the benefits of keeping the Sabbath?
I believe this is the main purpose of the Sabbath. God knows I need a day to rest from the routine of life. Keeping the Sabbath doesn’t mean I do nothing; it means I do things I enjoy and find relaxing. Things like reading a book, walking through the park or going on a bike ride with my kids. By taking a break, and resting my mind and body, l honor God, especially if the first thing I do on the Sabbath is take my family to church.
I may rest through some activity, but the way I keep the Sabbath holy is by first honoring God, the Creator of every day and every moment. Coming to worship helps keep my life focused. Praising God and hearing from His Word remind me what is really important. Setting aside one day per week to worship God helps me focus and readjust my priorities.
When I take time out to relax my mind and body and refocus my spirit, I become renewed and ready to face the week ahead. Put another way: Weekly renewal through relaxing and refocusing is the fuel that keeps me going through the difficult and monotonous routines of life.
As I relax, I am able to refocus, which results in being renewed, which then reenergizes me to do what needs to be done. I believe by keeping the Sabbath I am better equipped to handle Mondays. Without the Sabbath, I become weak and worn down. By honoring the Sabbath, I get what I need to keep on keeping on.
A highly successful person knows his limitations. He knows there will always be more to do than hours to do it. A highly successful person strives to achieve balance and recognizes his total dependence on God by keeping the Sabbath day holy.
Maybe the reason Mondays are so bad is because Sundays have become just another day. Setting aside one day per week as holy and using that day to rest, refocus, renew and re-energize is God’s gift to us. God created the Sabbath for us, and by keeping the Sabbath we are able to re-create ourselves for Him.
Are you on the road to success? Are you obeying the Fourth Commandment? Is it the habit of your life to be totally dependent on God?
Article adapted from Contactmagazine, May 2002.