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Rediscovering Models of Sabbath Keeping: Implications for Psychological Well-Being



There is a growing interest in Sabbath keeping in America as a counterbalance to our culture's consumerism, exhaustion, and loss of segmentation between work and other life arenas. We describe three models of Sabbath keeping, their implications for well-being, their inherent challenges and a program of research to investigate the proposed relationships. The models are (a) Life Segmentation, in which people actively segment their lives to create respite; (b) Prescribed Meaning, in which people prescribe positive and religious meaning to life segmentation; and (c) Integrated Sabbath, in which Sabbath keeping is celebrated as an integrated belief system of daily rest, reflection and relationship development.
Journal of Psychology and Theology
2004, Vol. 32, No. 1, 3-11
Copyright 2004 by Rosemead School of Psychology
Biola University, 0091-6471/410-730
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
(Exodus 20:7-9)1
he phrase “Sabbath keeping” may appear
quaint and outdated, a throwback to a time
captured in a Currier & Ives lithograph.
Indeed, for many Christians today, Sundays are full
of little league games, finding a parking spot at the
mall and getting through the to-do list on home pro-
jects. In New York, Catholic leaders have bemoaned
the fact that church attendance is regularly disregard-
ed for youth Sunday soccer games (Rather, 1999).
The fundamental religious meaning of Sabbath is
also a concern for Protestant denominations. A
recent survey by the mainline protestant
denomination Presbyterian Church USA reflected
not only the loss of time set apart for Sabbath but
also its spiritual dimension (n = 1,123; Guinn, 1999).
Approximately 60% of the respondents reported
spending less than five hours a week in activities that
could be regarded as Sabbath keeping, and while a
majority saw it as a time for personal rest and
restoration (79%), a far smaller number focused on
its religious aspects such as showing the Kingdom of
God to the world (55%).
The purpose of this article is to explore three dif-
ferent models of Sabbath keeping, explicating their
benefits for well-being as well as their challenges. We
argue that while each model provides some benefits
to psychological well-being, the third, “integrated
Sabbath” offers the best outcomes and is most close-
ly aligned with the multiple themes found in biblical
references pertaining to the Sabbath.
The Bible has many passages in the Old and New
Testaments regarding the importance of keeping the
Sabbath as part of God’s law and covenant. While
there are distinct themes associated with Sabbath
keeping in both testaments, the Bible offers no
single prescription for how to spend the Sabbath
day. While Orthodox Judaism has developed a
strong tradition around the practice of Sabbath
keeping (Goldenberg, 1991), Christianity has always
struggled with the exact meaning of “keeping the
Sabbath” (Bacchiocchi, 1998; McCrossen, 2000). In
addition, the pluralism of American society is reflect-
ed in the multifaceted ways that people tend to
approach Sabbath keeping in their lives. With this in
mind we do not define Sabbath keeping as merely a
cessation from daily labor or activities, or a photo
negative of our everyday lives. Instead, Sabbath keep-
ing broadly defined consists of intentional periods
Seattle Pacific University
There is a growing interest in Sabbath keeping in
America as a counterbalance to our culture’s con-
sumerism, exhaustion, and loss of segmentation
between work and other life arenas. We describe
three models of Sabbath keeping, their implications
for well-being, their inherent challenges and a pro-
gram of research to investigate the proposed rela-
tionships. The models are (a) Life Segmentation, in
which people actively segment their lives to create
respite; (b) Prescribed Meaning, in which people pre-
scribe positive and religious meaning to life segmen-
tation; and (c) Integrated Sabbath, in which Sabbath
keeping is celebrated as an integrated belief system
of daily rest, reflection and relationship development.
A previous draft of this article was presented at Religion and
Well-Being Session, 2001 American Psychological Association
Annual Conference—Division 36 Psychology of Religion. The
authors would like to thank the three reviewers for their helpful
comments. Correspondence regarding this article can be sent to
Margaret Diddams, Seattle Pacific University, School of Psycholo-
gy, Family & Community, Seattle WA 98119. Email:
1All biblical references are from the New International Version
(The Holy Bible, 1978).
of time set aside to restore equilibrium to the mind,
spirit, and body where a person may use his or her
religious belief system to reflect on life’s personal
and spiritual meaning.
This definition can be applied to three modern
approaches to Sabbath keeping: (a) Life Segmenta-
tion, in which people actively segment their lives to
create respite; (b) Prescribed Meaning, in which
people prescribe positive and religious meaning to
life segmentation; and (c) Integrated Sabbath, in
which Sabbath keeping is celebrated as an integrated
belief system of daily rest, reflection, and relation-
ship development. It is important to note that these
three models of Sabbath-keeping are not necessarily
independent, but that they build on one another.
That is, someone who practices Sabbath keeping as
described in model 2 continues to incorporate
aspects of life segmentation from model 1. Similarly,
the third model of integrated Sabbath presumes
both life segmentation and prescribed meaning.
For each model we review the psychological liter-
ature to hypothesize the probable well-being associ-
ated with it. Finally we address the challenges inher-
ent in keeping each Sabbath model, ending with a
proposed program of research.
Sabbath Model 1: Life Segmentation
By the seventh day God had finished the work
he had been doing; so on the seventh day
he rested from all his work. (Genesis 2:2)
Keeping the Sabbath is usually associated with
the fourth of the Ten Commandments given to the
Hebrew nation after their exodus from Egypt.2
However, the origin of the Sabbath is in the creation
story when God rests on the seventh day. The word
“rest” in the creation story is translated from the
Hebrew verb saba
-t, meaning, “to cease, desist or put
to an end” (Morgenstern, 1962). People who follow
a life segmentation model of Sabbath intentionally
segment work from other life arenas and participate
in leisure or family activities on a regular basis. This
segmentation is not necessarily tied to normative
religious or spiritual practice, and most of those who
follow this model of Sabbath would not necessarily
characterize themselves as “Sabbath keepers.” How-
ever, they have “ceased” or put to an end” by creat-
ing boundary conditions between work and other
important life domains (Belkin, 1999; Schor, 1992).
This intentional segmentation has become increas-
ingly important as the physical boundaries between
work and home fade with telecommuting and
increased use of home offices (Etozioni, 2000; Fried-
man & Greenhaus, 2000).
Whether people take off an entire day or find
some regular period of segmentation, the key benefit
to this model is that people find respite or experi-
ence less stress by inserting punctuation” around
their activities each week. Literature in the area of
stress and stress management has highlighted the
importance of balance in one’s life as a way to effec-
tively cope with stress that cannot be eliminated.
That is, people who are committed to roles in sever-
al areas of their lives (family, work, social, intellectu-
al, physical, etc.), yet have multiple resources to draw
upon when faced with stress, are more likely to
respond in positive ways to stressors than those who
are committed to only a few roles (Kobasa, 1979).
This concept is known as resiliency, that is, the
capacity to recover from a downturn to a former
state of relative well-being (Carver, 1998). Actively
disengaging from work to focus on other areas of
one’s life can help promote a more balanced
lifestyle, providing greater psychological resiliency
(Linville, 1987; Whetten & Cameron, 1998).
The first challenge to the life segmentation
model is that the segmentation may not be holistic
and subsequently not offer total respite. That is, peo-
ple may physically detach themselves from a stressful
work situation, but unless they redirect mentally,
emotionally, or spiritually, they will not necessarily
experience respite. In other words, leisure can be as
taxing as work (Aron, 1999). Etzion, Eden, and Lapi-
dot (1998) found that Israeli reservists were more
likely to experience respite from their regular job
when they were able to psychologically detach from
it during their reserve service.
The second challenge for this model of Sabbath
keeping is that it is possible for it to devolve into a
set of rules. For people who are interested in keeping
the Sabbath through life segmentation, but have no
faith tradition regarding the practice, it is easy to
begin by simply adding rules to their lives: no email,
no going into the office, no grading papers, etc. If
people add rules to their lives because they decide
they should slow down, they may feel less in control
of their lives than if they had never adopted inten-
tional segmentation. According to Deci and Ryan’s
introjected regulation model of self-determination
(Deci & Ryan, 1985, 1995; Ryan & Deci, 2000,
2001), behavior that is intra-individually driven can
2Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15.
still have an external locus of control through social,
familial, or other expectations and not be truly per-
ceived as part of the self. Activities that are driven
through introjected regulation are performed to
avoid guilt or anxiety, and subsequently undermine
the joy and self-competency inherent in those activi-
ties. Even though this behavior is internally driven,
actions are controlled or coerced by “shoulds” that
are external to a person’s sense of self (Deci & Ryan,
1995). Subsequently, rather than ameliorate stress
associated with daily life, Sabbath-keeping as anoth-
er add-on set of rules may exacerbate it.
Sabbath Model 2: Prescribed Meaning
For in six days the LORD made the heavens
and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them,
but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore
the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and
made it holy.(Exodus 20:11)
One way to introduce holistic respite and to pre-
vent Sabbath keeping from becoming merely a set of
rules is to associate positive meaning with it. This
positive meaning can be found in the Sabbath’s holi-
ness. The Hebrew word for holy, “qadosh,” pertains
to certain places, objects, or occasions when people
enter into relatively direct contact with the divine
power. The underlying idea is not separation, but the
positive thought of encounter with God that calls for
a reverent, worshipful response such as prayer, study
and celebration (Brown, 1982; Mirsky, 2000).
Sources of positive personal meaning for the Sab-
bath include interpreting the Sabbath day through
one’s faith, discovering opportunities for personal
growth, and creating community with others.
Through the process of positive reappraisal, the
meaning of a situation is changed in a way that
allows the person to experience positive emotion
and psychological well-being in the midst of stressful
situations (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2000a, 2000b).
While much of the early research on stress and sub-
sequent coping activity has focused on the negative
attributes and outcomes of stress, more recent
research has focused on the development of positive
personal meaning that often accompanies coping
with stress (Holahan & Moos, 1991). The coping lit-
erature is full of examples of the importance of posi-
tive reflection for one’s health, especially in the face
of chronic stress (Moskowitz, Folkman, Collette, &
Vittinghoff, 1996). In addition, the positive meaning
associated with religious beliefs has also been shown
to serve as a coping mechanism in the presence of ill-
ness and death (Pargament, 1997; Richards & Folk-
man, 1997; Stolley, Buckwalter, & Koeing, 1999).
In choosing to observe Sabbath, people often
reflect on the meaning associated with engaging in
habits that are different than those of the cultural
norm. Our culture values productivity; a popular the-
saurus equates unproductive with wasteful (Merri-
am-Webster, 1989). However, reflecting on her own
Sabbath experiences, author Barbara Brown Taylor
(1999) wrote
It was not sloth. It was Sabbath, and its effect was immediate.
Relationships became more spacious. Prayer became more
spacious. Time itself became more spacious. Instead of charg-
ing out the gate on Monday mornings, I found myself saunter-
ing instead, still relishing the freedom of the day before. There
was never enough time to get everything done, but I finally
understood there never would be. There would only be
enough time to live with as much gratitude as I could muster.
(p. 510)
Keeping the Sabbath with prescribed meaning helps to
redefine aspects of life, giving different and positive per-
sonal meaning to values others consider unimportant.
The key challenge to this model is to avoid prac-
ticing Sabbath keeping as the means to other ends
rather than as an end in itself. In the spirit of Ameri-
can multi-tasking, people might choose to keep the
Sabbath for additional motives such as protecting
family time or ensuring some scheduled time for val-
ued recreational activities. However, labeling this
time as “Sabbath” may dilute the personal meaning
derived from one’s religious beliefs. In the end,
focusing on actions that are not integrated with per-
sonal meaning diminishes the potency of this model
to impact well-being. This tension between using the
Sabbath as a means to other ends is not new. Rabbi
Abraham Heschel (1979) quoted the Ancient
Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC-AD
50), in defense of the Jewish Sabbath:
On this day we are commanded to abstain from all work, not
because the law inculcates slackness. . . Its object is rather to
give man relaxation from continuous and unending toil and
by refreshing their bodies with a regularly calculated system of
remissions to send them out renewed to their old activities.
For a breathing spell enables not merely ordinary people but
athletes also to collect their strength with a stronger force
behind them to undertake promptly and patiently each of the
tasks set before them. (pp. 13-14)
Rabbi Heschel commented that this interpretation
viewed the Sabbath as a means to renewed strength
and activity and that this interpretation would be
wrong. He noted that man is not a beast of burden
and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing
efficiency of his work. One way to prevent Sabbath
keeping from becoming a means to other ends is to
understand that it is not a religious contractual
agreement but instead based on God’s covenant
with his people: “The Israelites are to observe the
Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come
as a lasting covenant” (Exodus 31:16). Scottish the-
ologian James Torrance (1981, 1996) drew a very
clear distinction between contract and covenant. A
contract is a legal relationship in which two people
or two parties bind themselves together under mutu-
al conditions to affect some future result. However,
God’s covenant is not conditioned by anything
expected from people but is founded solely on the
love of God for his creation. God makes a covenant
for us not with us. In a covenant, Torrance wrote,
the indicatives of grace always precede the impera-
tives of law and human obligation. God’s grace is
not made conditional on man’s obedience to God’s
commandments (contract). Instead people follow
this precept with joy and gratitude because it is
God’s sign of unmerited favor in his creation and
redemption of the world (covenant).
Sabbath keeping as a covenant occurs when we
believe that God’s grace to us is not conditional on
obedience. Instead we follow the commandment to
keep the Sabbath with joy as we recognize God’s gift
of relationship with his creation (Torrance, 1981).
Focus on this covenant helps to avoid using Sabbath
keeping as simply another stress-reduction tool to
make us more productive during the workweek.
Sabbath Model 3: Integrated Sabbath
Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who
obeys them will live by them. (Leviticus 18:5)
Sabbath keeping will offer the most respite when
it is celebrated as part of a cycle of integrated and
intrinsically motivated faith that is part of one’s
everyday life and sense of self (Allport, 1960; Allport
& Ross, 1967). Rather than continuing to live a hec-
tic life and attempt to segmentation with Sabbath
keeping, we believe that psychological well-being
will be most pronounced when Sabbath keeping
becomes integrated into an internalized religious
belief system that regularly strives for respite and
well-being. The early church fathers referred to this
as Otium Sanctum or holy leisure. They meant a
sense of balance in life, an ability to be at peace
through the activities of the day, every day; an abili-
ty to rest, to take time to enjoy beauty and to pace
oneself (Foster, 1978). The ability to integrate one’s
belief system into a daily way of life that incorporates
Sabbath principles presupposes an established faith.
It is impossible to keep the Sabbath as described in
this third model without a faith system that recog-
nizes the pervasiveness of God’s holiness in everyday
life experiences.
According to Deci and Ryan’s (1985, 1995) self-
determination theory (SDT), self-determined behav-
iors that meet basic psychological needs will lead to
personal growth, integrity and well-being only to the
extent that the behavior becomes internalized into
one’s self system through autonomy, competence
and relatedness (Cowen, 1991; Kasser & Ryan, 1996;
Ryan & Deci, 2000, 2001; Sheldon & Kasser, 1998).
After reviewing biblical texts related to Sabbath
keeping, we identified three important Sabbath
keeping themes that align with SDT themes of auton-
omy, competence, and relatedness: rest, reflection,
and relationships, respectively. In the next section
we review biblical Sabbath texts connected to these
three themes and the psychological literature associ-
ated with each.
Rest and autonomy
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed
in all their vast array. By the seventh day
God had finished the work he had been doing;
so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
(Genesis 2:1-2)
If one believes in a God that has the awesome
power to create the universe, God’s rest on the sev-
enth day of the creation story should not be inter-
preted as a stay from exhaustion. Rather it indicates
God’s autonomous choice not to be subject to his
creation but ruler over it. The deliverance of the
Hebrew nation from the bondage of slavery not only
freed them from physical servitude, but it gave them
the freedom to experience spiritual rest, that being
made in the likeness of God, they too could decide
when to view their work as complete. As Bass (2000)
wrote, “To keep the Sabbath is to exercise one’s free-
dom, to declare oneself to be neither a tool to be
employed . . . nor a beast to be burdened” (p. 48).
With integrated Sabbath we recognize what we
can control and what we actively surrender—it is an
internalized rest, not one forced on or withheld from
us by social considerations. This autonomy is defined
as “feelings of personal volition towards activities
that are congruent with one’s sense of self” (Ryan &
Deci, 2000, p. 74). An autonomously functioning
individual experiences more personal value for activi-
ties when they are seen as emanating from him or her-
self. The choice, volition and freedom from excessive
external pressure that are hallmarks of autonomy
have repeatedly been shown to relate to well-being
(Myers & Diener, 1995; Reis, Sheldon, Gable,
Roscoe, & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000; Sheldon,
Ryan, & Reis, 1996). In addition, autonomy has been
shown to be an important component for internaliz-
ing religious belief. Ryan, Rigby, and King (1993)
found that religiosity characterized by autonomous
identification was related to increased volunteer
activity and more conducive toward mental health
than a socially prescribed religiosity. In related
research, Strahan and Craig (1995; cited in Ryan &
Deci, 2000) found that parents who encouraged their
children’s autonomous participation in church pro-
moted greater religious identification among them.
Sabbath rest recognizes that life contains many
cycles, seasons, endings, and beginnings, and that
rest itself is a good and important attribute of one’s
life. Integrated Sabbath values rest for its own sake
and prevents work and productivity from controlling
our lives (Peterson, 1994).
Reflection and Competence
Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you.
(Exodus 31:14a)
In integrated Sabbath keeping, reflection repre-
sents the conscious mental endeavor to integrate
hope into an internalized belief system. Recognizing
Sabbath’s holiness or apartness, Sabbath keeping is
most likely to be integrated into a sense of self to the
extent that people actually feel that they can devote
an entire day to Sabbath keeping without negatively
impacting their lives. According to Ryan and Deci
(2000), people must perceive personal competence
in addition to experiencing their behavior as self-
determined to build well-being. In turn, this sense of
competency, or self-efficacy, is an important compo-
nent of hope, which is also positively related to well-
being (Snyder, 1994; Snyder, Cheavens & Michaels,
1999; Snyder, Cheavens, & Sympson, 1997).
However, competency is not necessarily an intra-
individual construct. As Lazarus (1999) noted, the
Snyder et al. model posits a sense of personal compe-
tence or control over outcomes dealing with life and
the world. He added that hope is still possible even
when we are personally helpless to affect outcomes,
such as remission from cancer. We label this type of
hope transcendent hope.” In transcendent hope,
people do not have a personal sense of control over
their pathways nor in their ability to enact a solution
to an outcome. However, they believe that there is
power outside the physical realm that can indeed
positively impact outcomes. This notion of transcen-
dent hope is reflected in the writings of the Apostle
Paul: “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes
for what he already has? But if we hope for what we
do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans
Bandura (1997) noted that a sense of personal
agency can derive from within oneself or it can be by
proxy of others, what he labeled “proxy control.”
Subsequently, people who do not have direct control
over a situation can still derive a sense of control or
hope. Indeed, Weldon, Adkins, Ingle, and Dixon
(1996) hypothesized that the locus of control factors
—internal, external and chance—were deficient in
that they did not recognize the belief in a God who
has control in the world. They labeled this attribute
“God Control” and found that God Control mea-
sures were independent of established external and
chance locus of control measures, suggesting that
hope in God is not simply an abandonment of per-
sonal control over life’s outcomes.
Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu
provided a good example of such transcendent
hope. In 1985, prior to the end of apartheid in South
Africa, Archbishop Tutu made the astonishing state-
ment that he could celebrate the defeat of apartheid
because God would not be denied the victory over
evil. Several years later he reflected on his comments,
saying that during the darkest time of apartheid
“when evil seemed to be on the rampage and about
to overwhelm goodness, one held on to this article
of faith by the skin of one’s teeth. It was a kind of
theological whistling in the dark and one was fre-
quently tempted to whisper in God’s ear ‘for good-
ness sake, why don’t you make it obvious that You
are in charge?’” (Tutu, 1999, p. 4). In 1985 Archbish-
op Tutu did not know what the future held but he
experienced transcendent hope believing that God
owned the pathway to the future.
On the flip side, worry destroys transcendent
hope. Worry has been defined as a disturbing cogni-
tion that a state of an object in some domain in life
(health, safety, etc.) will become (or become more or
remain) discrepant from its desired state (Boehnke,
Schwartz, Stromberg, & Sagiv, 1998; Schwartz, Sagiv,
& Boehnke, 2000). For example, Schwartz et al.
found that worry was especially negatively related to
well-being for people who held power values, which
emphasize self-interest at the expense of others.
While Boehnke et al. found that there was no rela-
tionship between worries and subjective well-being
when worries were external to the self such as home-
lessness, child abuse, or global debt, worries about
one’s self, such as being unattractive, fear of unem-
ployment, death of loved ones, etc., were negatively
related to subjective well-being. By worrying, people
replace God with themselves as a central source of
hope which will decrease feelings of competence in
resolving life’s discrepancies. Spending the Sabbath
day worrying about future personal issues disregards
its covenantal nature by forgetting that the Sabbath
reflects the sign of God’s mercy and blessing to cre-
ation (Yang, 1997). In the Sermon on the Mount
Jesus reflected on the corrosive aspect of worrying
on well-being when he said
I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or
drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more
important than food, and the body more important than
clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap
or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds
them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you
by worrying can add a single hour to his life? . . . Therefore do
not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about
itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-
27, 34)
Sabbath keeping is not just a celebration of God’s
past blessings but a positive expectation of the future
centered on him.
Relationships and relatedness
There are six days when you may work, but the
seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred
assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you
live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:3)
Sacred assembly can be an important aspect of
Sabbath keeping, strengthening one’s social identity
with others who also keep the Sabbath. For exam-
ple, the Sabbath is central to Jewish identity. There
is an old adage that says, “More than the Jews have
kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews
(Molloy, 1999).
A review of the psychological literature has shown
that the need to belong is a powerful, fundamental,
and extremely pervasive motivation (Baumeister &
Leary, 1995). Belongingness through more specific
social identity (ethnic identity, racial identity, or col-
lective self-esteem) has also repeatedly been shown to
relate to positive psychological adjustment (Contrada
& Ashmore, 1999; Elliott & Sherwin, 1997; Lee &
Robbins, 1998; Myers, 2000). Social support through
spiritual social identity offers such benefits as rein-
forcing the coping mechanisms of one’s religious
schema when faced with bereavement (McIntosh, Sil-
ver, & Wortman, 1993; Richards & Folkman, 1997).
Eugene Peterson (1994) reflected on this positive
aspect of relationships when he noted that during the
18 years he served as a pastor, he and his wife regular-
ly used Monday as their personal Sabbath day. How-
ever, when he left the ministry to accept an academic
position, they were able to join with their congrega-
tion in keeping the Sabbath. He wrote that this sense
of community in keeping the Sabbath has added an
element of festivity to the day.
In addition, many theologians have encouraged
people to spend part of their Sabbath day in works
of mercy in showing love to others (Primus, 1991).
Such activities may include feeding the hungry, cloth-
ing the naked, lodging the homeless and visiting the
sick and imprisoned. Being with and serving others
can prevent Sabbath keeping from evolving into self-
absorption (Smith, 2000).
In summary, rest that emphasizes personal voli-
tion, reflection that builds competence, and relation-
ships that strengthen Sabbath identity are most likely
to lead to Sabbath keeping that is integrated into
one’s self and, in turn, positively impact well-being.
There are two key challenges to keeping this
model. The first challenge is the recognition that the
integrated model calls for a reexamination of one’s
entire life. As Kurt Lewin (1951) noted over 50 years
ago, people must experience a personal “felt need”
before they are willing to undertake dramatic life
changes. It may be that only people who have experi-
enced symptoms of burnout will be willing to under-
take the motivation to radically transform their lives.
A second challenge to this model will be the lack
of support from other Christians in one’s faith based
community to observe an entire Sabbath day. Even
with the increased writings on the importance of
Sabbath keeping in evangelical Christian literature
(e.g. Dawn, 1989; Bass, 2000), apart from attending
church, many Christians are not convinced that it is a
gift but rather, see it as a return to legalistic dogma
(Bacchiocchi, 1998). Without social support from
one’s religious community it will be difficult for indi-
viduals to practice Sabbath keeping as a celebration
of an integrated lifestyle, especially in regards to the
relationship aspect of the model.
The importance of keeping a Sabbath day to pro-
mote and maintain an integrated life should not be
underestimated. Social psychology has long shown a
tenuous link between people’s beliefs and actions
(Rokeach, 1968). The integral role of Sabbath keep-
ing in religious belief is a necessary but not sufficient
condition for its practice. Unless Sabbath keeping is a
central part of one’s religious belief system, practiced
with autonomy, competency, and in conjunction with
others, it is easy to have a bifurcated view where
beliefs are divorced from actions and Sabbath keep-
ing is more of an espoused goal rather than action or
“theory” in use (Argyris & Schön, 1996). This can eas-
ily occur since we simply do not live in a culture that
supports or admires integrative Sabbath keeping.
However, as Bass (2000) noted, society chal-
lenges Sabbath, but at the same time, Sabbath chal-
lenges society. Sabbath is prophetic and relevant for
our time, she asserted, precisely because so many
people find it difficult. Practicing rest with reflection
and surrounding oneself in community with others
who hold similar values regarding Sabbath keeping
should help to internalize the practice, making it eas-
ier to go against the grain of larger societal expecta-
tions (Swann, 1990).
There are three key foci for future programs of
research. First, there is little general understanding
regarding the restorative nature of time away from
work (Eden, 2002). For example, why do some peo-
ple dread a return to work on Monday, while others
view Monday as a respite from time at home, and
still others return to work on Monday with a
renewed sense of purpose? Throughout this article
we have hypothesized that respite will be related to
the extent to which people experience self-deter-
mined down time with rest, reflection, and relation-
ships. Future empirical research is necessary to sup-
port these claims.
Once researchers have substantiated those rela-
tionships, the next step will be to investigate the
moderating effects of religious beliefs on the rela-
tionship between respite and time away from work.
Specifically, we would like to examine the moderat-
ing strength of each of the Sabbath keeping models
on work, respite, and well-being. In order to assess
these domains, measures of Sabbath keeping will
need to be developed and related to psychological
Finally, future research could examine pastoral
burnout, time away from work, and reasons for or
against regularly practicing Sabbath keeping. While
pastors have been identified as a key population at
risk for burnout (Hall, 1997), they often feel unable
to regularly disengage from their ministry (Grosch &
Olsen, 2000). Research that documents Sabbath
keeping among pastors and its concomitant relation-
ship to wellness may serve as a tool to encourage
others to seriously consider incorporating Sabbath
keeping in their ministry.
We believe that the psychological evidence sup-
ports all three models of Sabbath keeping in provid-
ing opportunities for respite. However, while the
first two models provide respite from external forces
such as job stress, the third model encourages
respite as a daily activity minimizing the need for
respite from without.
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DIDDAMS, MARGARET. Address: School of Psychology, Family &
Community, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 3rd Ave W, Seattle, WA
98119 . Title: Director of Research & Associate Professor of Graduate
Psychology. Degrees: BA, Wheaton College, MA, PhD, New York
University. Specializations: Industrial/Organizational Psychology,
Human Resource Management, and Behavioral Statistics.
SURDYK, LISA KLEIN. Address: School of Business and Eco-
nomics, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 3rd Ave W, Seattle, WA
98119 . Title: Associate Professor of Economics. Degrees: BA,
Seattle Pacific University, PhD, University of Washington. Special-
izations: Macroeconomics, political economy, managerial eco-
nomics, integrating biblical principles with economics.
DANIELS, DENISE: Address: School of Business and Eco-
nomics, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 3rd Ave W, Seattle, WA
98119 . Title: Associate Professor of Management. Degrees: BA,
Wheaton College; PhD, University of Washington. Specializa-
tions: Organizational Behavior; Human Resource Management
Research Interests; Theology of Business; Sabbath; Motivation;
Organizational Citizenship Behaviors: Impression Management.
... 5.For an extensive discussion of biblical material, see Brueggemann (2017) and the classical publication of Heschel (1951). For various forms of Sabbath-keeping, see Diddams et al. (2004:3) who notes that Christianity struggled with the precise meaning of keeping the Sabbath and as a consequence had a multifaceted approach to it. ...
... 10.See especially Diddams et al. (2004) for a fuller discussion of negative experiences of Sabbath-keeping. ...
... It is, therefore, to be celebrated for its transformative power that brings life to flourish. This is shown, for example, by a growing number of studies that revealed how Sabbath-keeping has a positive effect on mental health (cf., e.g., Diddams et al. 2004;Speedling 2019Speedling :1382Speedling -1400Superville, Pargament & Lee 2014). Diddams et al. (2004) found this so important that they define the practice in terms of its transformative nature. ...
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The commandment not to work and to rest on the Sabbath became a major spiritual practice in Judeo-Christian history. This article will spell out, in a concrete manner, the key spiritual contents of Sabbath-keeping that are relevant for and that determine an authentic, liberating and joyful celebration of the Sabbath. It, thus, contributes to the debate by Christians about the shape and form of what the practice of Sabbath-keeping practice might look like today. This article firstly explains how and why the practice by times became oppressive and abusive, losing its popularity because of a legalistic moralism. It then analyses how the practice in reality is about sanctifying work that reflects its true nature and that contributes meaningfully to human existence. It will focus on how commitment is a necessary beginning to practise the Sabbath before it analyses the dynamic and inspirational nature of Sabbath-keeping as a practice about resting. The article will anchor theological and theoretic reflections concretely in the life experience of faith communities concluding with a discussion about the lightness of the practice that is enjoyed in liturgy, in community, in play and in joyful celebration. The very last part will spell out ecological implications of Sabbath-keeping as one of the latest, exciting forms of Sabbath-keeping. Contribution: This article responds to the renewed interest in the spiritual practice of Sabbath-keeping. It analyses how the practice lost its popularity because of a legalistic moralism. It will then analyse the lightness of the practice as it is enjoyed in liturgy, in community, in play and in joyful celebration.
... Sabbath keeping is, of course, a high-cost practice especially when Sabbath keepers disconnect from the prevailing economic system for a full day each week (Bass, 1997;Brueggemann, 2014, Diddams, Surdyk, & Daniels, 2004Superville, Pargament, & Lee, 2013;Waller, 2009). Not only does devoting an entire day to separation from the secular incur an economic cost, but there are likely also (at least for some believers) attendant psychological costs of suppressing thoughts related to secular concerns. ...
... Not only does devoting an entire day to separation from the secular incur an economic cost, but there are likely also (at least for some believers) attendant psychological costs of suppressing thoughts related to secular concerns. The high cost of Sabbath keeping may be one reason that it is a relatively rare Christian practice (Bass, 1997;Brueggemann, 2014;Bull & Lockhart, 2007;Diddams et al., 2004;Waller, 2009); a full day of Sabbath rest is typically only found among orthodox Jewish communities or a few explicitly Sabbatarian Protestant denominations. At the same time, interest in Sabbath keeping as an intentional Christian practice is growing (Bass, 1997;Diddams et al., 2004;Superville et al., 2013)-although Christians who desire a Sabbath rest often lack the support of a Sabbath-keeping community. ...
... The high cost of Sabbath keeping may be one reason that it is a relatively rare Christian practice (Bass, 1997;Brueggemann, 2014;Bull & Lockhart, 2007;Diddams et al., 2004;Waller, 2009); a full day of Sabbath rest is typically only found among orthodox Jewish communities or a few explicitly Sabbatarian Protestant denominations. At the same time, interest in Sabbath keeping as an intentional Christian practice is growing (Bass, 1997;Diddams et al., 2004;Superville et al., 2013)-although Christians who desire a Sabbath rest often lack the support of a Sabbath-keeping community. ...
Internalization of religious motivation is associated with increased subjective well-being. However, much of the work on internalization focuses on widespread, low-cost religious practices. We propose that distinctive, high-cost, and meaningful Christian practices, such as Sabbath keeping, may be related to the internalization of religion and thus increased well-being when they occur within a community. Using a factor-cluster approach to develop an instrument to measure the internalization of Sabbath keeping among Seventh-day Adventists, we found a positive relationship between deeper internalization and higher subjective well-being. Importantly, the relationship between internalization of Sabbath-keeping practice and well-being was only weakly meditated by a more general measure of religious internalization, suggesting separate contributions of internalization for distinctive high-cost practices and widespread low-cost practices.
... Having the Sabbath observed around the world has helped unify the Jewish people who live in many different countries, cultures and time zones, creating a shared world view and cultural identity (Zerubavel, 1981). There is a famous expression that ''more than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews'' (Diddams, Surdyk, & Daniels, 2004). According to Hocking (2000), 'who we are' is shaped within the context of culture and history. ...
... Levin and Chatters' (1998) study provided evidence that religious factors have stronger effects of health status and psychological well-being than previous studies found. Diddams, Surdyk and Daniels (2004) presented three models of Sabbath keeping, which they feel result in greater psychological well-being, balancing the mind, body and spirit. The first model Life Segmentation, involves physically disengaging from work in order to focus on other meaningful pursuits. ...
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The religious practices and traditions that mark the Jewish Sabbath set it apart as a day different from everyday occupations and routines. Sabbath values focus on spirituality, respite, relationships and community, promoting a more balanced lifestyle. Sabbath keeping continues to have relevance in modern times as it is an oasis or counterbalance to the harried pace of modern life, with its exposure to incessant stimuli, technological innovations and our reliance on electronic devices. Understanding the form, function and meaning of Sabbath keeping may help occupational scientists have a better understanding of the place of religion and spirituality in occupational choice, cultural identity, and well-being.
... This aspect is of great importance for the practice of Sabbath-keeping, which can only be done if it has a positive, joyful character, devoid of legalism. See also Diddams, Surdyk and Daniels (2004). ...
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This article responds to the renewed interest in the spiritual practice of Sabbath-keeping by investigating its nature and meaning in the Judeo-Christian traditions. After briefly analysing the reasons for the contemporary neglect of Sabbath-keeping and indications of its renaissance, this article will analyse biblical pronouncements about the Sabbath, mainly from Hebrew Scriptures, but with brief attention to Christian Scriptures that provide various insights of decisive importance to understand and explain its prominent place for faith communities, but that are vitally important for reinvigorating Sabbath-keeping in a contemporary context. It analyses pronouncements in the Bible in Genesis 2:1–3 that highlights the Sabbath as joyful resting; the need for Sabbath-keeping as commandment in Exodus 20:9–11 and in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, and, finally Sabbath-keeping as trust in God as the provider in Exodus 16:1–30. Various spiritual insights and implications of these passages will be discussed. The article assumes historical critical insights as developed in biblical studies but develops a theological analysis that explains the spiritual dynamics in these texts. These spiritual insights explain the prominence of Sabbath-keeping in the Bible and its practice in the Judeo-Christian religious discourse.
... Sabbath-keeping helps us come back to center and to focus on what is most important in life (Dein and Loewenthal 2013;Muller 2000) and to, at least temporarily, opt out of our pervasive "anxiety system" (Brueggemann 2014, p. 31). Authors have articulated mental health benefits of Sabbath-keeping (Diddams et al. 2004;Goldberg 1986;Golner 1982) and have shown that Sabbath-keepers experienced psychological benefits in empirical studies (Dein and Loewenthal 2013;Smith-Gabai and Ludwig 2011;Superville et al. 2014). Sabbath-keeping was significantly correlated with mental health in a mediational analysis by Superville et al. (2014). ...
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Sabbath-keeping has several holistic health benefits when done for intrinsic reasons. Most research on Sabbath-keeping is about individuals where Sabbath-keeping is customary. This organic inquiry describes how a Sabbath promoted transformation for ten women where Sabbath-keeping was not the norm. Six themes emerged: Sabbath-keeping enhanced self-awareness, improved self-care, enriched relationships, developed spirituality, positively affected the rest of a Sabbath-keeper’s week, and Sabbath-keeping practices and philosophies also evolved over time. The author argues that reviving the best parts of Sabbath-keeping is an effective, accessible, holistic practice that can contribute to the well-being of individuals, communities, and the earth.
... One framework for rest associated with virtue and well-being addresses specifically a Judeo-Christian audience. Diddams, Surdyk, and Daniels (2004) propose a framework for rest associated with virtue and well-being, which includes three models of Sabbathkeeping: (a) life segmentation, (b) prescribed meaning, and (c) integrated Sabbath. Each model builds on one another to produce increased levels of rest and wellbeing to the practicing individual. ...
In a culture that values availability, productivity, and speed, a strong work ethic is honored and rewarded. Hard work is seen as virtuous, while rest is given little attention. However, Scripture notes the value of rhythmic, intentional rest practices (i.e., Sabbath-keeping) and cultivation of a Sabbath heart. This article explores the value in rest that attends to enjoying, worshipping, and receiving from God outside of the world of performance and productivity. Consideration is given to the ways that both our culture and profession present major barriers to embracing this virtuous rest for mental health professionals. A brief survey of those with training in a mental health field who profess a Judeo-Christian worldview was conducted. Results showed that those who identified themselves as Sabbath-keepers were significantly more satisfied with the amount and quality of their rest than those who did not identify as Sabbath keepers. Future research implications are discussed.
... At least three models of Sabbath keeping have been suggested: life segmentation, prescribed meaning, and integrated Sabbath (Diddams, Surdyk, & Daniels, 2004). Christians may be found using any of the three. ...
Motherhood is both meaningful and arduous. The decades spent mothering bring with them stressors like decreased downtime, overload, high stress, fatigue, and more. As parenting takes priority, mothers often neglect their own needs for their child’s, negatively impacting their well-being. Today, many mothers in the United States face declining health and increasing burnout as a result. A variety of factors may be contributing to this: institutional invisibility, inequity, inflexibility, imbalance, isolation, and identity issues among them. Despite the multigenerational impact of a mother’s well-being, American culture and politics give comparatively little attention to the issue. In this paper, I propose that assets from positive psychology - delivered through ancient ritual practices - can benefit modern mothers. In a counterbalance to the stressors which threaten modern maternal well-being, rituals offer benefits to health, internal meaning-making processes, social connectedness, and emotion regulation. Integrating ritual practice into daily life requires three core elements – attention, intention, and repetition – paired with consideration of special time and spaces. Though insufficient to completely address the many forces working negatively against modern mothers, commitment to a ritual practice may help strengthen the aspects of day-to-day well-being that remain within a mother’s control.
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It has been long observed within biblical theology and ministry that, among the many benefits of creation and redemption offered to mankind by the Holy Scriptures; that of Sabbath-rest has been almost overlooked. The growing need for Sabbath-rest observance as a counterbalance to our culture’s consumerism, exhaustion, and loss of segmentation between work and other life arenas is readily apparent. The purpose of this study therefore, was to explore the theology of rest and its applicability to contemporary Christians, with a view to initiate the development of a productive rest-model for adoption by pastoral care-givers in contemporary Charismatic Christian Churches (CCCs) in Ghana. The study, designed qualitatively, blended a mixture of content analysis of the scriptures and scholarly works on the theology of work and rest with semi-structured interviews of pastoral care-givers in selected CCCs in Accra. The interviews, taking a survey approach, aimed at gathering sufficient representative information from suitable respondents that would aid in developing a productive rest-model for pastoral care in contemporary CCCs. The study finds that, the day for Sabbath-rest observance is a day, or a “block of time” within the working week which one designates for restful respite, worship, reflection, and celebration of God’s goodness, love, mercy and justice. The study also finds and concludes that, rest is a core value with God, reflecting the divine work-rest patterns instituted at creation. However, although rest, as acknowledged in the study, is relevant and applicable to all humanity, it appears not to be a core value in contemporary CCCs. The study recommends through its productive rest model, the conscious observance of Sabbath-rest to foster a flourishing life, not only for contemporary CCCs, but for all humanity.
Most people take the process of coping for granted as they go about their daily activities. In many ways, coping is like breathing, an automatic process requiring no apparent effort. However, when people face truly threatening events—what psychologists call stressors—they become acutely aware of the coping process and respond by consciously applying their day-to-day coping skills. Coping is a fundamental psychological process, and people’s skills are commensurately sophisticated. This volume builds on people’s strengths and emphasizes their role as positive copers. It features techniques for preventing psychological problems and breaks from the traditional research approach, which is modeled on medicine and focuses on pathology and treatment. Collecting both award-winning research and new findings, this title may well set the agenda for research on stress and coping for the next century.
Subscales assessing one's belief in God control were integrated with the Multidimensional Locus of Control (LOC) scale (Levenson, 1974) and the Multidimensional Health LOC scale (Wallston, Wallston, & DeVellis, 1978). These two instruments assess internal, powerful others, and chance LOC. Data were presented supporting the reliability and validity of the God control subscales. Also, it was concluded that the failure to measure God control biases the assessment of internal LOC, and that the LOC advantage is associated with a high score on either the internal LOC dimension or the God control dimension.
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
Understanding how clergy. who begin their careers with high idealism, optimism, and compassion, burn out is difficult. One body of research suggests that clergy, among others, burn out because of the systems in which they work. From this perspective. burnout is the result of external systemic factors such as bureaucracy, poor administrative support, and difficult work conditions. The other body of research suggests that burnout is the result of intrapersonal factors such as high idealism. Type-A personality, narcissism, and perfectionism. It is our position that these two bodies of research are compatible, and that by integrating the Self psychology of Kohut with the general systems theory of Bowen. it becomes easier to understand burnout. Further, by integrating these two theories. principles for treatment become clearer. (C) 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.