Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest: From Sabbath to Sabbatical and Back Again, By Ruth Haley Barton alt

Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest

From Sabbath to Sabbatical and Back Again

Transforming Resources

by Ruth Haley Barton
Foreword by Ronald Rolheiser

Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest
  • Length: 264 pages
  • Published: October 11, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: A0264
  • ISBN: 9781514002643

*affiliate partner

Will You Accept God's Gift of Sabbath Rest?

In our frenzied culture, the possibility of living in balanced rhythms of work and rest often feels elusive. This rings especially true for pastors and leaders who carry the weight of nonstop responsibility. Most know they need rest but might be surprised to find within themselves a deep resistance to letting go and resting in God one day a week, let alone for longer seasons of sabbatical.

The journey to a meaningful sabbath practice is slow and gradual, and it is a journey we need to take in community. Sharing her own story of practicing sabbath for the past twenty years, Ruth Haley Barton offers hard-won wisdom regarding the rhythms of sabbath, exploring both weekly sabbath keeping as well as extended periods of sabbatical time.

In Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest, you'll find:

  • Practical steps for embedding sabbath rhythms in churches and organizations, grounding us in God's intentions in giving us the gift of sabbath,
  • An opportunity at the end of each chapter to reflect and engage God around your own journey with the material, and
  • A conversation guide for small groups and communities to foster transformation on a community-level.

Sabbath is more than a practice—it is a way of life ordered around God's invitation to regular rhythms of work, rest, and replenishment that will sustain us for the long haul of life in leadership.

"I consider Ruth Haley Barton a treasured gift to the church! Ruth knows what she is talking about. Her mind, heart, and soul shine on the pages of Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest. Ruth is a rare, trustworthy guide for the person in need of deep rest."

Todd Hunter, bishop, Churches for the Sake of Others, and author of Deep Peace: Finding Calm in a World of Conflict and Anxiety

"In the face of the demographic shifts and national divisions happening in our world today, many leaders are often frustrated, fatigued, and despondent, desperately searching for a different way forward. That is exactly what Ruth Haley Barton offers us in this groundbreaking, new book Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest. This is an invitation for leaders to take the next step into sabbath living that gives them life and longevity in ministry. It is also a prophetic wake-up call, leading us away from individualism into the communal practice of sabbath keeping as it was always meant to be. I highly recommend this book for all those who deeply desire to find a new way of life together in community that brings true healing and wholeness. I could not be more excited for this much-needed and timely book!"

Brenda Salter McNeil, author of Becoming Brave and Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice

"In her new book Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest, Ruth Haley Barton masterfully explores the sabbath tradition within our modern context and re-centers this practice on God. Sharing anecdotes from her own personal journey, Barton beautifully captures the joy of the sabbath we see in Scripture and provides a practical approach to reclaiming the gift of rest, not only in our own lives but in our communities as well."

D. Michael Lindsay, president of Taylor University and author of Hinge Moments: Making the Most of Life's Transitions

"Ruth Barton is that rare Christian leader who not only preaches about the sabbath, she practices it weekly. Her delight in the sabbath and her love for it are contagious. I dare you to read about Ruth's journey with the sabbath and not fall in love with it yourself. I guarantee this book will awaken a desire in you to set aside work and to rest in God for one day each week, not as an obligation but out of sheer delight. May you discover the joy of sabbath-keeping as a way of life."

Rory Noland, director of Heart of the Artist Ministries and author of Transforming Worship: Planning and Leading Sunday Services as If Spiritual Formation Mattered

"This book will stir up a longing to receive one of God's greatest gifts to his children—the gift of Sabbath rest. Ruth Haley Barton has been a guide to so many leaders, including me, to make intentional and radical choices in order to live a sustainable life. A picture of such a life is painted here with the wisdom of Scripture and practical examples, in the stories of real people who deal with children, jobs, bills to pay, and the pervasive intrusion of technology. I came away believing a healthy rhythm is both possible and deeply desirable."

Nancy Beach, leadership coach and coauthor with Samantha Beach Kiley of Next Sunday: An Honest Dialogue About the Future of the Church

"In Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest, Ruth Haley Barton invites us into a holy place—what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel called 'a sanctuary in time.' Barton profoundly weaves together disparate strands of the practice of sabbath-keeping into a beautiful quilt that tells us a story about ourselves—we were meant for wholeness, not just individually, but communally. Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest shows us that this gift from God is not just indispensable for the life of faith but also in our discovery of what it means to be human. Barton has given us a treasure—a must-read for anyone longing for freedom from the tyranny of endless work and overproduction."

Drew Jackson, poet and author of God Speaks Through Wombs

"Do you know it takes courage to rest? Ruth Haley Barton has written a gentle, compassionate, and life-giving book on the beauty and healing that can be found in sabbath rest. Learning from her wisdom and practical guidance, we can stop striving and start resting in our God's good presence and grace. Read this and receive not just the permission to rest from work but to learn the joy of resting in God."

Kelly M. Kapic, author of You're Only Human and Embodied Hope

"For leaders who care as much about the state of their souls as the fruitfulness of their service, Ruth Haley Barton could be the most trusted advisor. Her wisdom, experience, and honesty shines through and offers an example of the challenge of developing a deeply rooted, healthy way of living and leading. Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest offers spiritual guidance for leaders who know deep in their bones that they need a way of being that is more intentional, reflective, practical, and restorative. Take a deep breath, be prepared for all that will be stirred up, and then bask in the teaching of this profoundly beautiful book."

Tod Bolsinger, author of Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change

"She's done it again. For many years now, Ruth Haley Barton has been a trustworthy guide—for the church at large and for leaders in particular—on deep formation and flourishing from the inside out. In this magnificent work, she turns her focus to sabbaths and sabbaticals. Shaped by Scripture, theology, and the wisdom borne from a life of practice, Barton knows when to challenge us, confronting our idols and addictions, and when to encourage us, giving us hope to believe that change and healing are possible. This is a foundational book fit for the challenges of today's world."

Glenn Packiam, pastor and author of The Resilient Pastor and Blessed Broken Given

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Ronald Rolheiser

Part 1: Sabbath
1. A Wake-Up Call
2. Beginning with God
3. Finding Freedom Through Resistance
4. Discovering Sabbath in Community
5. The Power of Unplugging
6. Sabbath as Delight
7. Sabbath and the Seasons of Life
8. Shaping Sabbath

Interlude: On Time

9. Leading a Sabbath Community

Part 2: Sabbatical
10. When Sabbath Is Not Enough
11. More Than a Vacation
12. A Season of Spiritual Opportunity
13. Setting Boundaries

Interlude: A Blessing for Sabbatical Time

Epilogue: Saved by Rest

Appendix A: A Sabbath Worksheet
Appendix B: Preparing for Reentry: Gathering Up the Gifts of Sabbatical
Becoming a Sabbath Community: A Conversation Guide for Groups


You May Also Like

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth Haley Barton is founding president of the Transforming Center, a spiritual formation ministry to pastors and Christian leaders. A trained spiritual director, teacher, and retreat leader, she is the author of multiple books, including Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Sacred Rhythms, and Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.