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After celebrating my 15th year serving at a church, they gave me a 1-month sabbatical…a time to unplug, rest, recharge, and vacation. This was an amazing gift, but it made me realize a very important truth…I am BAD at resting. I know that sounds odd…how can someone be BAD at resting? What an odd thing to be bad at!
I think we all understand that “unplugging” from youth ministry is difficult. We are constantly bombarded with social media, text messages, meetings, and a to-do list that never ends. Honestly, it’s HARD to take a month off, to completely “turn off” youth ministry, and allow yourself to relax.
But the truth is that we in ministry NEED to rest. We need to find a way to find margin and rest. The Bible has countless verses that remind us that rest is important. Psalm 23 describes God as One who “makes us lie down in green pastures.” Jesus promises to “give us rest,” Psalm 46 reminds us to “be still and know that” He is God. And even Jesus’ ministry was typified by moments of extremely emotional and “heavy” ministry followed by Him withdrawing to quiet places to pray and recharge.
As I reflect on my sabbatical, there are a few tips I would give about finding rest in ministry.
1. First, we NEED to take time off.
I get it – leaving is sometimes harder than staying. Filling all your roles with volunteers is difficult and time-consuming. But we must find time to rest and recharge. Think of it like exercise. I love to run. I could run 10 miles today, and then wake up and run 10 miles again tomorrow, and the next day, and so on. But if I continue to work that hard without allowing my body to rest and mend, my performance will suffer, and I will end up sore, bitter, and probably injured. The same is true of our work in the Kingdom. We SHOULD work hard – as hard as possible for the Lord. But we must find time to rest and recharge. We will be better ministers of the Gospel if we do.
There are awesome benefits that come when we DO take time off. We are rested and recharged. Taking time off gives us time to step away and return with a fresh perspective. Taking time off allows us to take a breather from any frustrations that are currently haunting us. And taking time off allows the other leaders, staff, student leaders, and church members the chance to step up and fill the roles that you’ve always filled. All of these are amazing benefits of taking a little time away.
2. Secondly, we need to find a hobby.
Hobbies are awesome, because they provide us with an opportunity to find a little margin in our days to unplug and just do something we enjoy. For me, I love CrossFit, running, and design. These are things I enjoy doing for me, but they are also outlets for me to live out my faith in “non-Christian” venues. I can just be me, a follower of Jesus, while lifting weights and sweating. I’m living out my faith, but I’m not “on the clock.” Hobbies can be a much-needed release valve in a stressful ministry bubble.
3. Finally, don’t forget your family
The phrase “don’t forget your family” rings true in a lot of ways, but in this particular context, I simply mean that your family needs rest as much as you do. Most of us in ministry have a job description, or a set of expectations and tasks to fulfill in our ministry role. Most of our wives and children, however, do not have a job description. Though the people in your congregation DO have a set of expectations for them, they are “unwritten” and “ever-changing.” Your family feels pressure just like you, and they need to rest and recharge as well. Don’t underestimate their need for rest and their need for YOU to be rested, too.
I’m praying that you will find a way to rest and allow God to recharge you. I wanted to close out with my life verse from Colossians 1:28-29 – “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to HIS power, which mightily works within me.