Like most of you in ministry I often run and run and run to exhaustion. My excuse is often "if I don't do it who will", or "I'm working for the Lord and this is more important than my comfort". However God has designed our bodies with some mechanisms that warn us when we are getting to the limits of our physical or emotional endurance. It's when we ignore those mechanisms (warnings) that we begin to breakdown physically , emotionally, mentally and even spiritually. We all know that at times Jesus rested and called for His disciples to rest.
Mark 6:31 (HCSB) He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
While we know that we should rest to keep from burning out, even when we are working in ministry, we don't do it. Today, in my quite time, I read a "Jesus Said Get Some Rest" by by Jeff Manion, from Dream Big, Think Small, Published by Zondervan.
The following is the complete text:
I settled in at a coffee shop to read and journal.
It was the perfect, peaceful setting to quiet my heart and reflect on life. But my tranquility was quickly disrupted by the onset of a throbbing headache. I’ve experienced this dull throb before, and as soon as it started I knew exactly what was happening and why.
Earlier in the morning I’d taken off on a long training run in damp air. The temperature was chilly and I overdressed. I warmed up during the run and overheated a bit. I wasn’t particularly thirsty and didn’t drink anything during the run, or when I reached my car, or when I got home. Big mistake.
Returning home, I showered, gathered my journal and laptop, and headed to the calm of the coffee shop. That’s when the dehydration-induced headache began to rob me of focus. I approached the counter and requested a glass of water, then another. But dehydration takes time to remedy, and the headache grew. The pain didn’t fully dissipate for hours.
I’ve made this mistake before and probably will again. The lesson is simple: Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Know what your system needs, and act accordingly. In a prolonged endeavor — a long hike, bike ride, or run — take in water before you grow thirsty. If you wait until you are parched, you’ve probably waited too long. Unfortunately, we usually discover what we should have done after we didn’t do it.
My coffee-shop headache serves as a parable for emotional depletion and the need to replenish ourselves. Serving a family, a company, or a ministry depletes your emotional reserves. If you are constantly pouring yourself out, you require a regimen of filling yourself up — rehydrating, if you will. Every “mile” of serving takes something out of you. If you want to live and love faithfully for decades — marathon distance — you had better know how to consistently restore depleted resources. And preferably before you are in desperate need.
The lesson is clear. Don’t wait until you feel a searing headache and then begin your search for water.
Drink before you are thirsty.
Let’s talk about ways to fill your spirit long before you grow emotionally, spiritually, or relationally dehydrated.
Don’t wait for the compounding symptoms of emotional burnout before you justify a vacation or build rest into your schedule. Plan time away long before you experience a crash. Once you’re totally depleted and drained, a week away isn’t enough to repair the frayed ends of your weary life.
During a complicated season in Jesus’s ministry, as enthusiastic crowds clamored for His attention and resentful enemies badgered Him, He chose to get away with his apostles.
Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. — Mark 6:31
Read His words again. Hear them as a personal invitation. We all have intense seasons when we need to get away to a quiet place and rest. And also, remember that some trips aren’t restful. You’re probably familiar with the type of getaway that causes you to need a vacation to rest up from your vacation. Years back we pulled the plug on a complicated road trip and instead rented a simple lake cottage not far from our home.
Don’t wait for a vacation to recharge your batteries. Nourish yourself daily.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. — Mark 1:35
Embrace the practice of the daily retreat. Seek quiet moments to reflect on Scripture, express gratitude for the blessings that surround you, and invite God into your challenging relationships and decisions.
Don’t wait until you find yourself in the middle of a spiritual desert to refill your tank. Create space to fill your thirsty spirit each and every day.
Make space for life-giving friendships. Who are your true friends, and how does your calendar reflect your devotion to them?
On occasion, Jesus taught thousands of people. But He also had an inner circle He limited to twelve disciples, and among those, had an even closer relationship with Peter, James, and John. Jesus also often visited the home of siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. Because their village was only a couple of miles from Jerusalem, Jesus could find refuge among trusted friends while encountering hostility in the capital.
Life can be lonely, but we make it lonelier than it needs to be by expending our life energy among a hundred shallow acquaintances while neglecting to connect deeply with any one individual. Don’t wait until you are relationally famished to invest in life-giving friendships.
All you have to do for family relationships to erode is nothing.
Relationships slide downhill by gravitational force in the routine wear and tear of life. How are family members prioritized in your busy life? Schedule downtime together, an occasional weekend away, a weekly date night with your spouse, or breakfast with one of your children. Create time to sit and eat and laugh. Invest in each other long before stress fractures are visible. Seek help early, before someone is ready to call it quits. Hydrate before a massive headache lets you know that you didn’t.
What energizes you? Walking, painting, sailing, time with grandkids? What activities recharge your batteries, and how do you give these activities priority in your schedule? It isn’t selfish to invest in your emotional health. When I am running on fumes, slogging through life in a perpetually depleted state, I am not leading, serving, or loving at my best. Life is draining. We need to discover ways to fill ourselves long before we crash.
Road races of any length have aid stations along the way. Volunteers fill thousands of cups with water or Gatorade. These tables are placed at predictable intervals along the course, with race maps letting you know exactly where you will find the aid stations. I think this is a great image of how to prepare for keeping ourselves hydrated in all parts of our lives.
Remember these words of Jesus to His disciples:
Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. — Mark 6:31
Know where the aid stations are. Drink before you are thirsty. Don’t wait for a meltdown or a breakdown before you refill your tank.
Before closing out today’s reading, pull up your calendar.
Look ahead four weeks to discern where the aid stations can be scheduled into your life. Over the course of the next month, where can you spend unrushed time with family or close friends?
Where can you capture quiet moments to sit, read, and reflect? Schedule these now. Write them into your calendar before every moment is claimed by draining activity.
Now look ahead three months. Where can you carve out significant time away? Schedule these times of rest long before routine commitments and demands stake a claim on every breathing moment.
I for one commit to trying to follow Jesus' example of taking time to rest and renew so that I can work toward the Commission that Jesus gave to His disciples:
Matthew 28:18-20 (HCSB) 18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at email@example.com
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.