Jesus knew that after a season of unusually intense effort (like a ministry of healing and preaching the disciples had just been on in Mark 6), you need to take a break. That’s true in ministry… it’s true in sports… it’s true in your work-day… it’s true in parenting. Not long ago the Life Group I’m in did an outdoor service project one of our congregant’s house. After 4 hours of strenuous work outside in the heat, I was a basket-case! I could barely walk. I had to take a break and lay down on the ground more than once. When you’ve worked hard and long, you need to regain your strength. You need to look back at what you’ve been doing. Most importantly, in ministry, you need a season of refreshing so that you can hear from the Lord before moving onto the next thing.
I must confess to you that I don’t do that very well. My wife will tell you that once I finish one thing – one project – I just check it off my list and without a break, go headlong into the next project. Is there anyone else like that? This is a problem. It’s been my problem for years, decades. It’s just very unhealthy to do that in ministry – spiritually unhealthy, emotionally unhealthy. And it will eventually end in burnout.
You’ve got to be intentional to find a quiet place to rest. That’s not just a problem in a culture that’s driven by the pursuit of success like American culture. That’s also our individual problem because of our personal busy-ness. And it was a problem for Jesus and the disciples! When I was a kid, my brother and I would run around the house playing war or just being loud, silly kids. We had a lot of energy. When my wife and I were first married we rented a house in St. Peter’s, MO just west of St. Louis. We made good friends with the family living behind us who had 5 kids including twin girls, Sophia & Lucia. Talk about parents trying to find a quiet place! The only place that the mom said she could find time alone to herself was in the bathroom sitting on the toilet with the door locked and the exhaust fan running! I can still remember my Dad’s voice when I ran around the house with my brother. When my Dad had enough of our shenanigans he’d yell out “Can I get some peace and quiet around here?” My brother and I knew right then that we were in BIG trouble and better get outta there fast!
We all need times of spiritual refreshing – times of peace and quiet. Time to relax, to recharge.How often you need to do that probably depends on how draining your work is… or your ministry is… or how intense the spiritual battle is. Ministry is spiritual warfare and will drain your spiritual batteries if you let it… if you’re not careful… if you don’t take time to replenish your soul and your spirit. Ministry is spiritually and emotionally exhausting. I read recently that preaching for 30 minutes is equivalent to an 8-hour workday! I feel badly for guys who have to preach multiple services! But whether it’s preaching, or teaching in children’s church, or serving in the nursery, or leading a small group – all of those kinds of spiritual ministry will eventually drain you unless you take time to replenish and recharge
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