At the beginning of 2021 I made a decision to create a few different personal boundaries in my life. These new boundaries and operating rules also impacted my ministry and the way I approached the many projects and people that I am involved with. For example, I decided that starting at 5:30p on Friday night I would not answer text messages and emails. And that this release from needing to respond – or, at least, feeling like I was expected to respond – immediately brought with it a definite sense of freedom. Not only did I shut down answering emails and texts on Friday night but continued this shutdown until 9:00a on Monday morning.
This gave me a night with my wife on Friday evening uninterrupted by texts and messages on a variety of apps. And, it gave me all day Saturday to focus on my writing and especially on the teaching I was preparing for Saturday evening when I lead a house church. A whole day from 5:30a to 5:30p without interruption. Of course this improved my attitude and approach to Saturday night’s fellowship time, as well.
And then I took the whole of Sunday as a day away from all expectations. I did not go into my office. I did not answer calls, have appointments, write blogs, answer emails. It was a day for me and a day to refresh my soul and body and to refocus after a busy and often hectic full week.
This could be regarded as having a Sabbath and I am good with that label. But, my point was to set some boundaries in my life so as to reclaim who I am in the midst of what I do. And, not let the needs and demands of others dictate what I do and who I was becoming. At least for a day or so each week.
We are now well into January of 2022 and I have continued the practice of Friday evening to Monday morning. And I have added an hour a day, Monday to Friday, when I take time out of everything that a busy ministry throws my way and I simply rest, relax, and reflect. Like a mini-sabbath in the midst of a very active and often stressful and long day.
And, starting this week I have decided to remove all notification sounds – that constant ding and beep that lets me know when a text, email or message has come in on one of the dozen or more ways for people to communicate with me and me with others. Then I am scheduling a time near the end of the work day when I will read all the messages and emails in one time block and respond to the ones that need to hear back from me. And, so I am eliminating the constant small and annoying interruptions that go on all day tempting me to stop what I am doing to see who might be trying to get in touch with me. Those who study these things remind us that can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to refocus on what we were actively involved in before we respond to an electronic signal that we had received a message, a text, or an email.
A side benefit is that when speaking face-to-face with someone I no longer hear my phone trying to grab my attention away from the eye-to-eye conversation that I am currently involved in.
So, I now take a “sabbath” or a full 24 hours away from what I do for a living. And, I am controlling or maybe a better word is managing my time better and allowing fewer constant interruptions by establishing and maintaining boundaries.
I highly recommend that you consider doing the same if you have not already done so.