Technology, Burnout, and Our Need for Sabbath

“I’m getting Zoomed-out”

That’s a phrase I’m hearing more and more as churches and small groups are moving to online formats for preaching and connecting.

For many of us we have also shifted to a screen-mediated means of working, homeschooling, socializing, etc.

And I think, with everything going on, we are starting to feel burned out.

Here in Lubbock, Texas, we have been in lock-down for what feels like forever. Really it’s only been about 3 weeks or so. But many of us are feeling burned out. And this burnout is not something that just an ordinary nap can fix.

This kind of burnout we are experiencing is a soul-deep-fatigue.

Why is it that we feel this way?

We feel this way because we have forgotten and neglected to Sabbath.

Genesis 2:3 says – “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Up until this point in the timeline of events, God had been creating everything. He made the universe; he made the earth; he made the lights in the sky and the orbital patterns of the planets; he formed the oceans and mountains and all the creatures and living things that made their homes there. And most of all, God made adam – humanity – male and female. Then God rested from all his labors.

Now, God didn’t need to rest. He’s what we call omnipotent. That is, he’s all-powerful. But it’s more than just power. God is, in and of himself, completely, totally, unceasingly, self-existing. God relies upon nothing for him to exist or display any and all of his characteristics. He is because he is.

So God didn’t need to rest. But he does.

Why?

To reveal to mortal, finite, small, tiring, human beings the reality that we must rest on a regular basis.

Rest is not optional.

Sabbath wasn’t something that we could figure out on our own. We couldn’t look at creation and see that we needed a day of rest. God had to reveal it to us, this 6-1 work to rest ratio, so that we might regularly experience rejuvenation, restoration, and most importantly, a hint of the ultimate rest which is to come in Christ’s second coming and renewal of all things.

So getting back to technology and all of us feeling burned out –

Sabbath is something that doesn’t just apply to our work the way we think of work – a set number of hours each week we work in exchange for money. “Work” in the biblical sense, I think, applies to all the stuff we do throughout the week – yard work, house work, driving work, work work, school work, screen work, etc.

God calls us to substantially rest from that normative activity we do six days out of the week so that one day a week we might experience his rejuvenation of our souls. And that applies to our screen time.

Our screens are now the means we have to conduct work, school, fellowship, etc. We are totally inundated with screen time. So in order for us to rest from that work (the emailing, zooming, facetiming, etc.) we need to come up with a plan where we will trust in God, set down our phones, emails, and social media platforms, and rest.

If I’m honest with you, I don’t know what this looks like for me yet. But here are some things for my life that I’m seriously considering:

1) Set up my (and our family’s) phone to disable all the apps except for text and call on Sundays.

2) Set a reply-back email for Sundays, alerting people that if it’s an emergency (there always are and we need to tend to those out of faithfulness) to call me, otherwise I’ll get back to them Monday or Tuesday.

3) Limit screen use around the family in the evenings.

4) Limit my use of screen time on Sundays to fellowship and worship. Watch the sermon, fellowship with our Sunday school class, and then spend time catching up with family abroad. But be wise and spread this out.

5) Take a nap, like a real nap, after worship and Sunday school class as a family. We all know we need it.

I pray that this finds you and that you feel a sense that you can, by God’s grace and the empowerment of his Holy Spirit, that you can truly rest and unplug in appropriate ways during this time when we are all inundated with screens. I praise God that we have these means to even stay connected during this time, but just like too much of anything, we can get burned out and our souls desperately need Sabbath, even from technology.

What are some of your ideas of how we can Sabbath from our technology in these times where it seems we are glued to it all the more?

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