Pastor’s Column: Blessing the ‘Rest’ of Your Life
“Are you exhausted? You look exhausted,” said my Primary Care Physician as he looked into my eyes with his face just inches away from mine. I was at a doctor appointment due to a respiratory virus. This interaction surprised me and honestly it scared me a little. Was it that obvious? Yet, in a profound way, it felt good to have someone validate how I was feeling. EXHAUSTED.
Do you ever withhold personal rest and refreshment and tell yourself or others “but there is so much to do”, “so-and-so needs me”, or “If I don’t do it, who will?” Let’s face it, ministry is demanding.
“Do you ever withhold personal rest and refreshment and tell yourself or others “but there is so much to do”, “so-and-so needs me”, or “If I don’t do it, who will?” Let’s face it, ministry is demanding.”
Serving the Lord and others can be like a roller coaster with its ups and downs. Therefore, prioritizing personal time weekly and extended time seasonally to unplug from the demands for some personal soul care is not only important, but a necessity.
Bill Gaultiere from Soul Shepherding wrote the following:
Most pastors have a “day off” but that is not the same as a Sabbath day. Typically, on a day off you catch up on things or do whatever you want. A Sabbath is devoted to the Lord in a very individualized way that’s not legalistic. For one person it’s “work” to do some errands or light projects around their house on their Sabbath day, but for another it helps them to relax and rejoice in the Lord. The spirit of Sabbath is that we set aside a full day (or longer) to do no work in order to rest in God’s provision. We do nothing and we don’t try to make anything happen. As Eugene Peterson says, we ‘pray and play’ with the Lord. Most Christian pastors and leaders know that Sabbath rest is important, but they struggle to experience this peace consistently. They’ve experienced it sometimes and want to live in it all the time! To make significant improvements in the spiritual life we need to train with Jesus to become a different kind of person. This is especially true with learning to live in Sabbath rest.
So how do we give ourselves permission for soul care including rest, relaxation, reflection resulting in physical, emotional and spiritual refreshment?
A true Sabbatical is most beneficial when you unplug from phone calls, texting, emails, scheduled appointments, etc. This could be for a day or two or an extended number of days.
- It’s time for rest – however you rest best. Maybe it’s exercise, read for pleasure (not catching on reading for work), watch a movie, go for a walk or take a nap.
Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty taking care of yourself.
You are not being lazy. Just as you put your phone on a charger to recharge, you are recharging yourself.
- It’s time for reflection – Know yourself. Pause and reflect on these questions, thinking about the past week or two.
- What emotions did you experience?
- Which ones were dominate?
- Which ones did you over indulge or ignore?
- What are these emotions telling you about your heart?
- If your life were a book, what are a few chapter titles of the past 3-6 months?
- What might be the chapter title of where you are today?
Consider journaling your thoughts, feelings or prayers.
Some of the best ways to pursue health and wellness that will impact your life and ministry is to remember there are things you must do for yourself and only you can do them. In addition, you have to be truly known by someone.
Along with intentional times weekly and quarterly for Sabbaticals, I have connected with a retired pastor who meets with me monthly to listen, encourage and pray for me. What a blessing! In addition, I reached out to two guys to meet with and formed a new men’s small group. I am not going to walk this road alone anymore. I am being renewed every day!
Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)
Go ahead and schedule regular Sabbatical rest… cause the Lord wants to bless, the ‘rest’, of your life!
- Unhurried Living Podcast -Alan and Gem Fadling
- Soultalks -Bill and Kristi Gaultiere
- Soul Shepherding
Resources on Sabbaticals:
- Ministry Begins With Rest
- Jesus’ Sabbath Days (Bible study)
- Jesus’ Rhythm of Life (Bible study in the Gospel of Mark)
- Jesus Set Boundaries (Bible study)
- Sabbath as Praying and Playing (features an excerpt from Eugene Peterson’s book Working the Angles)
- From Sabbath to Sabbatical
Bill Goodwin is the Lead Pastor at Lighthouse Christian Church in Rosemount, MN