Last week, I had the privilege of spending several days in rest and relationship with other ministry leaders. None of us had time for such a luxury, and yet at the same time, it was necessary.
No one else knows your situation in ministry. If you are the sole pastor of a small church in a small town, you know this isolation well. You can be surrounded with people and yet very alone. If you are a member of a large staff at a multi-campus church, you still know this isolation. You may be surrounded by those who might understand, but no one you can trust to speak with about your current reality.
We all need these 3 rhythms of rest and relationship in our busy ministry lives if we are going to survive:
- A weekly check in. What does a contestant on a game show do when they don’t know the answer? They phone a friend. You need a friend – preferably a friend in ministry who understands your context without knowing the exact people that you deal with on a daily basis. You need a friend that you can talk to without a filter. It’s a short call – voice or video – with a human who you can talk to and listen to. You need to know you aren’t alone, and that’s what a weekly check in provides.
- A monthly check up. Even Jesus needed a periodic check up with the Father. In Luke 6:12, we see him going away for a night of prayer. This wasn’t his normal, weekly Sabbath. This wasn’t his daily ongoing communion with the Father. This was a special time outside of the normal parameters of his work, but not uncommon. When he invites his friends to join him for prayer at night in Gethsemane, they don’t think it’s weird. A regular check up with the Father was part of Jesus semi-regular pattern. If it was true of him, we could certainly use a monthly check up with God as well.
- A yearly check out. Get out of town. Not for training, not for a ministry event, not for work, not for a medical procedure, not for any obligation. Check out. Leave town, turn off your phone, and relax. People will try to keep you from doing this – the church or your ministry needs you! But your ministry also needs you healthy. In Luke 4:42, we see Jesus leaving to be by himself and people trying to keep him there. If anyone loved people and was committed to his ministry, it was Jesus. But he still took time alone. Take time away from everything that demands your attention – turn off the notifications and turn off people’s demands – and rest. It will take a few days before you can unwind the tension that you’ve been carrying, so take a few days more to relax. Your church, your people, your spouse will all thank you for putting this into practice.
We need rest and we need relationships to thrive in the ministry God has called us to. If you don’t find a rhythm of rest and relationship, you will not be able to complete the task you have been called to. What rhythm will you put into practice this week, this month, or this year? I’d love to hear your rhythm in the comment.