Guiding Principles for Taking a Day Off, part 1

by Joel Comiskey, Living in Victory

Legalism puts people into a straitjacket and stifles fun and creativity. There’s no one right way to take a day off. In fact, a day off is all about avoiding routine—not doing those things that are considered “work” on the other days of the week.

Each person must define what regular work is versus relaxing and recharging. The idea is to do the interesting things that you can’t or don’t do during the week. It’s removing yourself from the stress-related activity and receiving renewal. Granted, we should not neglect the small, necessary house chores, like washing dishes, taking out the trash, and so forth.


A day off involves relaxing, which means getting a lot of sleep. I have a goal of sleeping seventeen hours between the night before my day off and the night of my day off. That is, I like to average 8.5 hours between those two nights. Yet, more than sleep, a day off is a time of relaxation. The goal is zero stress. I personally believe that the only criteria for an excellent day can be found in the following two questions:

  • “Did I fully relax?”
  • “Was I able to avoid “normal work” and enjoy God and others?”

I talked to one pastor who differentiated a day off and the Sabbath. He believed that a Sabbath had to be completely spiritual, while a day off was more for rest. Maybe he’s right, but I think he was overcomplicating things.  Most people cannot commit to both a separate “Sabbath” (spiritual day) and a day of rest and relaxing (day off).  And I only see the one day of the 7-day week in Scripture when God asks us to cease regular work. 

Of course, the day off is certainly not a time to avoid spiritual disciplines. However, it’s possible to become overly rigid and even legalistic in our thinking that the day off should be entirely dedicated to spirituality. Rather, I think we should live and walk with God spiritually every day of the week. The reality is that the best type of day off is both spiritual and restful. While we should cease all regular work on a day off, we should also emphasize spirituality and time with God.

I personally like to vary my devotional activity on my day off—focusing on doing spiritual activity that I wouldn’t normally do in my daily devotions, like watching a video on God’s creation, reading a different portion of Scripture, walking, and praying, and so forth.  Recently, I watched The Case for Christ and then rejoiced in what Jesus means to me. On the other six days, my devotional time is very similar, so on my day off, I like to break the mold a bit.

Each person should wrestle with balancing spirituality and fun. But the word rest should guide the day off. The day off is the time to renew energy and strength for the long, hard work week ahead.