The Bible tells us that God “remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). Unfortunately, many of us forget.
Pastors and church leaders can be among the worst workaholics you’ll ever meet. Maybe this condition is due to the fact that the ministry to-do list is never done. Maybe the core cause is the leader’s insecurity demonstrating itself in compulsive behavior. Maybe keeping everybody happy drives us. Maybe…
But the truth is, our strength is finite. God knows that. He built Sabbath rest into the creative week. He gave Israel guidelines for taking breaks, giving the fields a year off, interrupting the rat race for jubilee celebrations. God knows that we can’t burn the candle at both ends without running out of candle.
Sadly, many of us don’t discover this obvious fact until it’s too late. We “burn out” or find ourselves in some form of physical and emotional exhaustion. And for some, that depleted energy level leads to tragic life and behavior choices.
A few years ago, my wife and I joined a group of pastors for a marriage retreat. Surrounded by dense Georgia trees and serenaded by the birds that abandon their northern habitats at the beginning of each winter, we relaxed and laughed and celebrated the good things in our lives. I’ll never forget the fun we had refreshing one another. And looking around the room, watching pastors and pastor’s wives laugh until their faces were red and then hold each other as they revisited the life partnership they had formed, well…we needed that! Everybody needs that…
Church life can get overwhelming in a hurry, both for pastors and people. Because we spend half of our weekend in church activity, we can lose track of what God really wants for our days of worship. We can get so busy with doing the stuff of the church that we wear ourselves out and miss the whole point. Jesus said, “Come unto me…and I will give you rest.” I’m afraid some ministry folks never get there.
If you’re going to have a healthy church, you must be a healthy pastor.
One practical step would be to set aside a day of rest each week. After all, you’re not stronger than God and He took such a day to reflect on His work too. I learned to call such a day my “family day” because the sheep I served knew I needed one of those, even if they didn’t think a “day off” was always necessary for their shepherd.
So, hijack your Daytimer and insist on rest. Take care of your physical body and the relationships that make you strong. You can’t run the race of life like it’s a sprint–it’s longer than a marathon! Make choices to be healthy and the church you lead or worship in can be healthy too!
Remember that YOU are dust…