If you’re anything like most planters, there’s an eagerness to the work you want to do for God’s kingdom. You’re probably all too aware of what it will take to get your church off the ground and what you must do to get from Point A to Point B in your church planting journey. This excitement and hardworking spirit are God-given gifts meant to propel you forward in His purposes. However, there’s a danger and a risk that come with this zeal in ministry and with the burden of shepherding a flock.
In your hunger to make an impact for Jesus it’s too easy for your mind to get going, all gas and no brakes. Your mind may still be on church after “clocking out” for the day. You may be unintentionally neglecting the importance of spending time with your family. You may not even be able to recognize the unhealthy patterns that planters fall into so easily. So, let take inventory of your health: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When you rest, you can…
1. Allow God to bring your brokenness to light
The work of ministry is the work of people—shepherding them, knowing them, loving them, and even being hurt by them. Be careful that you don’t fall prey to suppressing the heaviness that comes with a life in ministry. The criticism you face as a church leader is real, but if you don’t stop to deal with all that you’re experiencing, it will surface in even more unhealthy ways.
So, make space for God to bring these things to light. Don’t be so busy moving forward that you fail to take inventory for where you are, where you’ve been, and where He will continue guiding you. When you slow down and rest, you’re then able to take time to reflect. Not only can God do this miraculous work of bringing up the difficulties we try to suppress, but once He reveals these things, He will help you see how everything you’re hiding or neglecting is connected to your own spiritual journey with Him.
2. Stop neglecting your personal walk with the Lord
The reality is that we all struggle with unhealthy things in our lives. We may be so eager to be successful that we are neglecting our own spiritual walk with Jesus, our own mental health, our own physical health, and even our own families. Our desires for success in ministry—which are not in themselves a bad thing—may cause us to neglect the most important things that God has gifted us!
So, ask yourself: Do I want success for the name of Jesus, or do I simply want success for my own name? It’s a hard question to have to answer and come to terms with. The importance of rest is that it reveals to us our unhealthy blind spots that God is faithful to address in our personal walks with Him; He can be trusted with the darkest parts of our journey.
3. Rediscover God’s purpose for your ministry
Rest reminds us and renews us in our sense of calling. As a church leader, you’re probably well aware of all the statistics out there for others in our line of work. About 90% of pastors experience depression, and about 80% undergo serious loneliness as they pursue this calling upon their lives. The truth is that we as pastors are exhausted, and too often, we don’t know who to trust. We’re tired of feeling like we’re never enough or like we can’t hit that home-run sermon we so desperately wanted to hit. We’re tired of feeling like we’re not growing. We question your leadership and wonder if we should do something else or be somewhere else. All of these concerns come to mind, and we constantly feel like we’re failing.
So, here’s why rest is so important: When we rest, pause, and deal with the things that are surfacing and being exposed within our lives, God will remind us in the middle of our rest that He is the One who has called us to this work. We were never promised ease or smooth sailing; in fact, God knew the pains we would walk through and how we would be washing the feet of those who would betray us, deny us, and doubt us, just like Jesus experienced. Though we are not Jesus, we can know that He understands the hurt we undergo as we pursue the calling He has placed upon our lives.
We must stop, breathe, rest, and be reminded that God—our Creator who hung the moon and the stars—has called us to this great, frustrating, and exhausting task. Consider the last time that you truly rested, not just taking a quick half-day break. Remember: it takes about three days really to unwind. That means leaving your email access in the office and your cell phone back at home. It means focusing on your family, on Jesus, and on the call He has placed upon your life. Be encouraged to truly pursue rest. It doesn’t have to just be once a year; you can find true moments of rest each day as you make your way back to the Father. Find true rest for your soul, and be reminded that what He has called you to, He will faithfully bring to completion.
Published August 8, 2023