Rest, Sabbath, and Play: A Rule of Life for Marketplace Leaders

By Jasmine Bellamy

September 15, 2023

Article, De Pree Journal, Marketplace Leaders, Rest

“The best thing you bring to leadership is your own transforming self.”

Ruth Haley Barton

In 2020, while the world was reeling from the pandemic, I was embarking on a new journey. For 2 1/2 years I committed to quarterly three-day spiritual retreats within a transforming community. As I made space for God’s activity in my life, opened myself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and explored new spiritual practices to nourish my soul, a rule of life emerged providing—what Ruth Haley Barton calls a “structure and space” for my growth and flourishing. You may be surprised by what my rule of life entailed, given that I’m a senior executive for a large corporation. As I tuned in to my soul, three themes came into focus; rest, Sabbath, and play arose as key to strengthening the soul of my leadership.

Like any good strategic plan, a rule of life means nothing without commitment and accountability. Here’s how I put it into practice.


Be still and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10, NRSV)

As a business leader focused on driving results, one might ask, “Who has time for rest?” In actuality, productivity and creativity decline when we fail to rest. Rest isn’t just sleeping, but also resting in God. My commitment to rest is manifested through a daily practice of silence and solitude.

Henri Nouwen characterizes solitude as the “inner rest to wait and listen,” the time to pay attention to the inner self, enabling us to be present to ourselves and others which cultivates stronger relationships. After seven to eight hours of sleep, I spend an hour each morning opening my heart to receive from the Holy Spirit. It’s the time I carve out to be still and know God. I listen to my life and sense what God is up to so I can participate. I pay attention to my dreams and meet them with curiosity and wonder. What arises becomes the basis of my petition for Divine help. I surrender, allowing the time to unfold and develop as the Spirit leads.

I find another compelling and sober reminder for the necessity of rest in Tricia Hersey’s manifesto, “Rest is Resistance.” She writes, “Rest pushes back and disrupts a system that views human bodies as a tool for production and labor. It is a counter-narrative. We know that we are not machines. We are divine.” We are human beings made in the image of God, not human doings.


“There are so many streams we have not heard before because we have been troubling ourselves too much to listen. But we cannot keep going as we have been. God, bring your wooded quietude into our homes, keep us safe from ourselves.”
Reflection on stanzas III-VI of Wendell Berry’s poem “Sabbaths 2001” by Rachel Paprocki

Historically my Sabbath practice has been centered around Sunday worship. But in seasons of my life, Sunday looked more like prep for Monday business and a day to get things done after a long work week and attending a myriad of my children’s activities on Saturday. Wayne Muller’s book Sabbath offered me profound insight into the practice and invited me to transform my experience.

Sabbath is about surrender, trust, resting, and delighting in God. It’s relinquishing one day so we are refreshed to return to the world our best. Sabbath invites us to slow down before we are tired because everything is dangerous at high speed. Muller issues a warning about grandiosity—when we believe the false narrative that the world cannot go on without us for one day. In a culture where the satisfaction of our desires fuels our efforts, Muller posits that rest is the alternative to craving. Sabbath is about letting go and letting be, remembering who you are, getting to know your true nature, and being properly centered.

To the marketplace leader, Muller offers a stinging reminder that the values of the system are rooted in things that can be exchanged and that wealth is measured in terms of money, and not time. In “Our Unforming,” Cindy Lee presents the Sabbath as resistance to capitalism, the relentless drive for increased productivity, and working for survival. Sabbath is more than not working; it’s reconsidering our relationship to work.

My Sabbath practice looks like an elongated version of my silence and solitude practice. It includes worship, reading to nurture my soul, walking in nature, honoring my body, and being present with my beloved. It’s dedicated time each week to bask in the presence of God and trust in God’s direction for my life.

This sacred time, when I am rested and alone with Spirit and the sparks of creativity begin taking form and beauty emerges, is the truest, most vulnerable reality I know.


Woven throughout the Old and New Testaments is the thread of children playing. Such spontaneous joy reflects freedom, innocence, and creativity. Years before I would embark on this transformational journey, I was subconsciously drawn to the invitation to play. I recently re-discovered two notes in my archives. Item #32 from 32 Unusual Ways to Love Ourselves: “Playing, often” and a mantra from a guided meditation: “I play. I create. I succeed.”

My natural disposition is to be serious. It is not easy for me to let go, have fun, and embrace lightheartedness. Play, therefore, pushes me beyond my comfort zone. For me, play looks like creating a vision board, practicing yoga at the beach, meditating while swinging in a silk cocoon, picking flowers at a farm, using my hands to rebuild broken pottery in kintsugi, zip lining and taking a leap of faith, and indulging my family in a game of Monopoly. Sometimes play looks like a comeback! Seven years ago, I abandoned my tennis racket for a yoga mat. Listening to my body, I realized that I missed being on the court and now I play weekly! More important than the specific activity is making space from work and rest to enjoy what feels good in your body—to reconnect with the unguarded child within you where creativity abounds.

The Benefits of Committing to Rest, Sabbath, and Play

As I reflect on my 30-year career, it’s only in the last three years that I have begun to understand the value of these practices which have shaped me into a contemplative business leader. It is no coincidence that this is the first time that I have come to work fully as myself. I am more courageous, creative, and impactful, transforming both the business and the culture. My team has also benefited. They are empowered and confident because they are seen, supported, and valued. Barton’s words ring true: “The best thing you bring to leadership is your own transforming self.” The wisdom in Scripture has been guiding us there all along. Furthermore, through my lens as a love practitioner, I see my commitment to rest, Sabbath, and play as pillars of the sacred work of self-love and self-care, gifts given to us for life and godliness.

Looking back, I would tell my 20-, 30-, 40-year-old self, “You are sacred. Your inner self is your truest self. The condition of your soul directly impacts the quality of your leadership. Organize your life to make space to listen to your soul. God will meet you there, where the Spirit dwells. Unleash your creative power and potential, cultivate the rhythms of rest, Sabbath, and play. Love and take good care of yourself. You are the only you that you’ve got. Be well.”


Jasmine Bellamy

Member at Large

Jasmine Bellamy is a love practitioner and catalyst for business and culture transformation. She is a visionary strategist and joyful disruptor at the intersection of faith, culture, and business. Jasmine is the founder and spiritual director of Love 101 Ministries, which is dedicated t...

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