Recently, we were able to correspond with Dr. Alvin Reid, professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, about his thoughts on Sabbath-keeping. Dr. Reid admits that he is in the beginning steps of his journey, but we hope his story will encourage you to reflect on God’s goodness offered through Sabbath rest.
Blessed Earth (BE): Dr. Reid, what prompted your desire to start keeping a Sabbath?
Alvin Reid (AR): For some years now I have valued and practiced a personal retreat with some regularity. However, as I got older (I am 56 now) and realized I could not keep the pace of life I once did, I began to see the need increasingly. In fall 2013-spring 2014 a series of events brought this to a head. First, I had a serious back issue come up (long story, not worth telling) that caused me to reconsider the pace of life. Then, my wife noticed memory issues and began to be concerned. I had a five hour neurological test that discovered no dementia (they said I was highly intelligent, which coming from Alabama was encouraging, but they found I have adult ADHD (no huge surprise there) and, surprisingly, that I have some issues with depression. That really got my attention. I started meeting with my colleague Sam Williams, a counselor, who put me on a limit of hours to work. Sam had me read a book on Sabbath, and begin focusing on Sabbath weekly. This has been life-invigorating. I’m an activist at heart, and am learning the joy of Sabbath.
BE: What have been some of the biggest obstacles or challenges?
AR: Our evangelical culture in general and my own Southern Baptist culture in particular values activism, accomplishment, and at times confused busyness with godliness. Learning to say no, which has always been a battle, has become easier. I’m still very active and motivated, but I am more aware of what sets me on a path of depression or workaholism.
BE: What scripture, community accountability, or practices have helped you overcome these challenges?
AR: I meet with Sam regularly, and my accountability partner, a biker named Jim Gillespie, have helped. In particular, my wife Michelle has been my biggest encourager. Also, reading through the Gospels and noting all the times Jesus got away has been helpful. Finally, the book The 4-Hour Workweek has been a practical help in getting all things done I should in far less time.
BE: What, if any, benefits have you noticed in your physical, mental, and spiritual health since you began keeping a Sabbath?
AR: I feel I have experienced a personal revival. This is a big deal to me as writing, teaching, and preaching on revival has been a huge part of my life. God has given me fresh perspective. I still have back issues, but I’m not stressed over it.
BE: How has Sabbath keeping affected your marriage, your family, and/or your ministry?
AR: It has helped me enjoy the empty nester phase we have now entered. My wife and I actually bought some property up near a huge lake an hour from us. We go there together: we fish, and we sit and enjoy God’s creation. We saw a bald eagle the last two times we visited! It is wonderful.
BE: If you could share one encouragement with others, what would it be?
AR: Being busy is not necessarily a mark of being godly. And, you can get a lot done, more in fact, if you rest and Sabbath regularly. Then when you work, you get more done from a refreshed perspective.
Alvin L. Reid serves as Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two married children: Joshua and his wife Jacqueline, and Hannah and her husband Corey. Originally from Alabama, Alvin holds the M.Div and the Ph.D from Southwestern Seminary and the B.A. from Samford University. He serves as Director of the Young Professionals Ministry at his local church, the Richland Creek Community Church in Wake Forest. Alvin has spoken at a variety of conferences in almost every state and on four continents, including over 2000 churches, colleges, conferences and events across the United States and globally. He has written extensively on evangelism, missional Christianity, spiritual awakening, and student ministry. More recently he has learned to enjoy God’s creation at a slower pace. To learn more about Alvin’s ministry you can visit his website: alvinreid.com