I’ve been a pastor for over 30 years and, in my younger days, did not rest like I should have which created friction in my family and in my soul. I justified not resting because the work of God, the more important work, had to be done and if I didn’t do it, who who would. Narcissism fed my work ethic and depleted my soul.
God honors rest, He himself created a whole day to do nothing but rest. Who are we to argue?
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:2,3
The word rest is where we get the the Sabbath. Sabbath for the Jews is on Saturday, for Protestants it’s on Sunday, but rest can happen anytime.
Many leaders/pastors who have fallen to immorality have fallen because they did not take care of their souls when out of the spotlight. They were too busy to rest. Everything was too important. The church needs them. They had no time or energy to reflect that danger might be ahead.
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. Psalm 57:1 NLT
We have to take time for rest.
For 30 years Jesus was hidden. What was happening during that time we can only assume, but Isaiah gives us a clue,
Listen to Me, O islands; pay attention, O distant peoples: The LORD called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me. He made My mouth like a sharp sword; He hid Me in the shadow of His hand. He made Me like a polished arrow; He hid Me in His quiver. He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel, in whom I will display My glory.”… Isaiah 49:2
If you feel hidden. If you need hidden time, maybe he’s making you like polished arrow, he is refining you for when it is your time. Don’t hate the shadow, embrace it.
Jesus showed the disciples how to rest
Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Mark 4:37, 38
Our rest, to others, looks like we don’t care but in reality we rest because we care. We can rest, like Jesus, because God is in control. Our lack of rest may reveal that maybe we don’t trust God as much as we should. We have to do all the work, burn out and ask God to help after the fact.
Burnout is real
Barna reports that in March 2022, “the percentage of pastors who have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year sits at 42 percent.” This sharp rise was first seen in November 2021, with the number of pastors who reported that they were considering resignation up nine percentage points from January 2021.
Younger pastors are particularly affected by burnout, the study said, noting that “46 percent of pastors under the age of 45 say they are considering quitting full-time ministry, compared to 34 percent of pastors 45 and older.” There were also higher levels of burnout among clergy women, compared with those for men.
The work of God can’t happen if all God’s children are burned out. Take your days off seriously. Put rest on your calendar or someone will put work in it’s place.
Rest is a part of setting boundaries. You cannot give what you do not have.
Jesus invites us to rest
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
anapaúō to give (experience) rest after the needed task is completed; to pause (rest) “after precious toil and care”, to pause after the process.
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:30,31
Jesus invites us, like the disciples, to a lonesome waste, to rest. Jesus himself had just heard about the brutal death of his cousin John the Baptist and he may have been thinking about rest himself.
It’s not just the physical labor that takes a toll, it’s the mental and emotional labor that can drain us as well. Be care to guard your heart from which all the issues of life flow.
Rest in the shadows
Yes, the shadows are for prayer and study and activity but Solomon saw the folly of this as well,
All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. Ecclesiastes 1:8
But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you. Ecclesiastes 12:12 MSG
Rest is not a substitute for the work of God it is a necessary part of the work of God.