How to observe the Sabbath when your job requires you to work

I am serving a full-time mission in Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission, but prior to this I was working as a doctor with an on-call commitment of working every third weekend. I learned then how much I missed attending Church, and how much I missed my day of rest from the world. I found that my attitude is the most important factor in observing the Sabbath day. The following are examples of the attitude I tried to have:

Don't rationalize that because you're at work it's just an ordinary day. I did the things I would normally do on a Sabbath if I wasn't at work. I read the scriptures, wrote letters, prepared lessons, tried to listen to uplifting music and avoided television.- Give service where/when you can. Some of my most enjoyable Sabbaths at work were when I tried to go the extra mile. I took time out of my busy schedule to visit a member who was in the hospital, to listen longer to a patient or just to smile all day and cheer people up.

Recommit yourself to live the following week better than the last. I remembered my covenants and thought of the Savior's sacrifice as I would if partaking of the sacrament. - Sister Carolyn Airey, Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission

What we did:

Doesn't spend money

I have one full-time job and two part-time jobs. There are times my full-time job requires me to work on Sunday. When I work on the Sabbath, I work strongly in presenting a spiritual presence to my co-workers. One of the ways I do this is to observe all the other commandments for the Sabbath. One of the biggest ones that is commonly broken at my job is to do business at fast food restaurants. I will not allow myself to spend money on the Sabbath.

I also have a special prayer with my wife to comfort me with work and to get me through the shift. At first, I had trouble working on the Sabbath. However, once I realized that I am not supporting a profit-making business and that I am serving the public, I felt more at ease. I am a correctional officer, and nothing in the world pleases me more than to protect and to serve my fellow brothers and sisters. - Bob Rodeffer, Kaysville, Utah

Read scriptures

I was baptized March 22. My position at work does require me to be there on Sundays. I was fortunate to be able to arrange my schedule to arrive at work a bit later, which enables me to at least get to sacrament meeting. I feel better knowing I am able to partake of the sacrament, if that's all I can attend.

I also keep my scriptures in my car. That way when I have a break, I can go where it is quiet and read my scriptures, which makes my day go better. - Thomas M.J. Mazzer, Broken Arrow, Okla.

Sunday best

During high school I worked at a "five and dime" store. Because I was new on the "totem pole" they required me to work on Sunday. On most days on break time I would purchase a goodie to eat and proceed to the break room to talk to people or read magazines. After I could feel my spirituality dwindling I decided something had to be done. I began attending other ward's sacrament meetings. I was always taught to wear a dress on Sunday, to help me remember what day it was. I began to do this at work. I also began bringing things from home for lunch so as not to purchase anything on the Sabbath. On break and lunch times I would retreat to my car with scriptures in hand and study and pray. It wasn't long until the manager questioned why the dresses, etc., on Sunday. When I explained my views he said that he admired my religion and that I wouldn't have to work any more on Sundays if I was willing to work on Saturdays. - Nancy Oakes, Ontario, Ore.

Keeps mind on Sabbath

I have been in the funeral service industry for 14 years. There have been times when I was not required to work on the Sabbath, but for the most part I have worked at least two Sundays each month.

I have three ward callings: ward music chairman, ward chorister and second counselor in the elders quorum. I am also one of the teachers for the elders quorum. What I have found that works for me is to use my free time on the Sundays I work to do the following:

Study the scriptures, especially those found in the lessons I am assigned to teach.

Prepare my priesthood lessons, usually two weeks in advance.

Assist the bishopric in choosing the hymns and special music for our meetings. I ask the bishop for the sacrament meeting themes at least two months in advance.

Read Church publications, especially the First Presidency Message.

These few ideas help me to keep my mind on the commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. - Steven M. Sewell, San Bernardino, Calif.

Spiritual uplift

For 11 years, my job as a reading demonstration teacher in schools throughout the United States and Canada required me to be at a designated school by 8 a.m. Monday, prepared to teach any reading-related subject requested, on any grade level. This necessitated my taking Sunday morning flights out of Salt Lake City, often leaving my sacrament meeting as soon as the sacrament was passed.

My challenge during these Sabbath flights was to avoid much-needed school preparation and to seek spiritual uplift through gospel study or by writing in my journal. I especially sought opportunities for gospel conversations. I prayed that I would be directed to someone ready and willing to hear the gospel, and I carried copies of the Book of Mormon in my brief case to present as gifts. - Maurine C. Winterton, Salt Lake City, Utah

Worship through music

Worship through music. As my employer permits, when I work on the Sabbath I try to listen to uplifting music. Sometimes I sing hymns or Primary songs. Although I am working, worship through music brings me more in tune with the Spirit and enhances my efforts to observe the Sabbath and keep the Sabbath day holy.

Attend what meetings you can. This spiritually refreshes me and prepares me for times when I cannot attend. - Diana Eckersell Janson, Rexburg, Idaho

Worked for hospital

Some years ago I was working for a hospital that required frequent Sunday work. I found that taking my scriptures or journal with me was a very good way to have the Spirit with me. I would read my scriptures during breaks and at lunch. Before I started this practice being at work on Sunday was a low point in the week. But scriptures gave me a real lift.

Whenever possible, I would also attend Church, especially sacrament meeting. Having the Spirit helped me to be a better employee because I saw my work as a service to Heavenly Father's children. - C. Erwin Bolter, Ogden, Utah

How to checklist:

1 Treat it as Sabbath; don't justify acting inappropriately.

2 Keep Sunday attitude; wear dress clothes, if possible.

3 Pursue Sabbath activities; read scriptures, pray, serve.

4 Attend what Church meetings you can; fulfill callings.

Write to us:

July 5 "How to positively influence the lives of children who are not your own."

July 12 "How to adjust to a new culture when serving a mission in a foreign country."

July 19 "How to get out of a rut in your career."

July 26 "How to change or eliminate negative aspects of your personality."

Aug. 2 "How to recognize and eliminate pride in our lives."

Aug. 9 "How to develop a healthy dating relationship."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to help young people show respect for authority in school," "How to be emotionally self-reliant," "How to place people above tasks."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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