Do you ever feel like the world is spinning at 100 mph? Do you find yourself realizing that time really does goes by faster, the older you get? Does it seem like there is so much to do, and so little time to do it? Or how about the feeling of being pulled in a dozen different directions, by a dozen different people, for a dozen different reasons? It seems like I went to sleep last night, and it was February, today I woke up, and we are already several days in August. Life…and ministry…can be so incredibly fulfilling in ways we never imagined; yet also be draining at the very same moment. How do we as leaders prevent this from happening to ourselves, and the volunteers that serve under us?
As much as we want to be…or want people to think we are…we aren’t Bionic-Leaders, or Super Worship-Man, or Wonder-Woman-of-the-Word, we are all human; regular and broken, just like everyone else. As leaders, we feel the overwhelming burden and responsibility to ‘get things done for God’. His work is so incredibly important, and He does deserve us giving ourselves to Him, and giving Him our very best. But often times, you need to evaluate what “your very best” really is. My last full-time church staff job was incredibly consuming; there were seasons where I work 6-7 days per week, and 60+ hours a week. Granted this wasn’t constant, but it could last for 3-4 months at a time. In the midst of those times, I loved it; I loved putting in tons of hours, giving my blood, sweat, and tears to the cause of Christ, doing the very best I could, with what I was given, inside the scope of my responsibility. I took my responsibility there very seriously. But as I look back and think about the 5 years I was there, I have to ask myself, it those times, how effective was I? I was so determined to get stuff done, that I began to measure my results with quantity, not quality.
Rest. It’s so important. We all know we need it, but when was the last time you got at least 8 hours of sleep per night, for an entire week solid? I know I can’t answer that, because I can’t remember that far back. We all know in our minds that rest is important; some of us may even point out how even God rested when creating the earth. (Genesis 2:2). Yet, as we point that out, it’s 10:30pm on a Tuesday night, and we are still at the office, our families at home.
Think about a hammer. You see, there is something interesting about this tool; it needs negative energy to be useful. To be successful with this tool, you have to pull back. Have you ever tried to hammer in a nail, simply by pushing the hammer against the nail continuously? Silly thought, isn’t it? Everyone knows that you have to hit it, pull back, hit it again, pull back, hit it again, etc, etc. Have you ever considered that the word Retreat, a word we use a lot in church-world, means to ‘pull back’? When we work ourselves to the bone, trying to get as much done as we can, we are like a hammer being continuously pushed against a nail; we feel the pressure, and if we are strong enough, we might see a little success….but our success level would exponentially increase if we allowed ourselves to pull back….to retreat….and to hit it again.
Does a retreat mean driving far away somewhere and fasting for 4 days? Maybe, if that’s what you need. But a retreat can be as simple as taking the days off that you are allotted. Giving yourself a chance to pull back, recharge, and get ready to hit it again.
Take time to rest. It is so important. God’s work will never be complete, I don’t think. I mean, there is always someone else to needs to hear His name. There is always someone who needs to understand His Grace better. There will always be the need and desire for Christians to worship Him. We will probably never catch up, and that’s ok. To be most beneficial as leaders, worshipers, and servants of Christ, we need to find our pace…a realistic pace that produces results, as well as models the type of living that God would want us to live.
So, how do we change our lifestyles, so that we can get to this place of taking rest? Our Pastor instituted this plan with our staff at Canyon Ridge, that we all were mandated to participate in. His mandate to us was that we were to find a day, and make it our Sabbath. Since we all work on Sunday’s, the idea is to choose one of your days off, and make that you Sabbath, with the challenge being that for this one 24-hour period, you do not produce anything. At all. Nothing. That means don’t go to work. Don’t work from home. Don’t check your email. Don’t mow the grass. Don’t pay bills. Don’t clean. Don’t do anything. Rest. Relax. Golf. Whatever gives you life, in a relaxing kind of way. My days off were Monday and Tuesday. Monday was my do nothing day. Tuesday, I did the needed house-work and other personal things. It was amazing the energy and focus I had when I returned to work on Wednesday.
You aren’t a failure for needing to slow down. I believe that God will bless you for following the model He set for us, and I believe you will see a difference in your work, and with your family. Accept the time that has been given to you.
To retreat is to come back stronger than you left. It does not instill fear or shame, yet initiates anticipation and eagerness for what is to come.