Anyone who has served in pastoral ministry for any length recognizes that the church calendar's fall season brings an avalanche of renewed activity and a concerted effort to regroup after the summer hiatus. It's called 'ramping up.' It requires the expenditure of a great deal of energy. Unless we deliberately balance this heightened activity with consistent rest, we can easily over-extend and be left in a deficit position emotionally. Jesus majored in the idea of 'resting up.' He built it into the pattern of His very active life and ministry and encouraged it in His followers.
Our overall health and well-being must develop a life pattern that incorporates rest. God, our Creator, who knows us best, determined that we would require one day per week to recuperate our emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health, thus counterbalancing life's demands.
Consider These Ideas When Establishing A Healthy, Sustainable Balance Of Ramping And Resting:
Find joy in who you are and in what you do. Many times we fail to rest because of self-imposed demands to measure up to others or perform at higher levels on the leadership hierarchy. The constant drive to be more than we are or do more than we do robs us of the ability to celebrate who we already are and enjoy our current role. Ultimately, rest is an extension of our contentment.
Write the rest into your agenda. If we allow rest to fall whenever it might, it will not fall at all. It needs to be planned and intentional. Our calendar should include deliberate, inviolable days of rest. Each of us is refreshed and refuelled in different ways. The designated weekly day of rest should be centred around those activities that replenish our constantly depleting emotional bank account. Social media and cell phones should be silent for that period of rest.
Take responsibility for your own life. A dear pastor friend, I will call Pastor Smith after suffering a major burnout, told me what he had learned from the experience. It was this: "No one has the responsibility or the ability to ensure the health of Pastor Smith other than Pastor Smith." The only person who can turn me into a victim is me. We become victims of our schedules only when we refuse to take responsibility for them. Blaming others and playing the victim card accomplishes nothing.
Live simply. In a complex world, we need to take the necessary steps to de-clutter our lives. Jesus said that a 'man's life does not consist of the abundance of things he possesses' (Luke 12:15). When we possess a multiplicity of things, our dedication and devotion are turned towards the maintenance of those things. The more we own, the less we rest (read – The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster).
Include Your Family in the Cycle of Rest. Start when your children are young to teach them the wisdom of rest cycles. Your home should be a refuge rather than a refinery. In the rush of contemporary living, understanding and incorporating rest into their lives is one of the greatest gifts you can offer your children.
Do not become a prisoner of debt. A debtor is a slave to worry. It is difficult, if not impossible, for one to find rest for the mind if they are in a debtor's prison (read The Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster). If you are in debt, find the quickest way out and refuse to be entrapped there again (read Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey).
Understand the folly of a results-based life philosophy. History is replete with examples of individuals who were successful in every way when measured by the world's criteria. Yet, those same people were disillusioned in their accomplishments and desperate for something meaningful. When we concentrate our energies on 'doing' rather than on 'being,' we both violate the teachings of Jesus and rob ourselves of the rest He offers.
“Come unto Me all who labour and are weighed down, and I will give you rest. — Jesus (Matthew 11:28)