Be honest. When was the last time you remember taking the day off?
There will always be something to do, whether today, tomorrow or the day after that. The list of tasks to do, people to call and places to go in a day are endless.
But when will we learn to stop?
Burnout does not happen overnight; it takes months, even years, of neglecting self-care to get to a breaking point.
We cannot allow ourselves to think that we must reach the point of a breakdown for us to understand the value behind rest.
If we are reaching the point of burnout, it is not simply because we work very hard or only because we are devoted to our work.
Extraordinary effort is required for ministers to tend and care for their congregations – a worthy and needed cause.
Unfortunately, self-care is often left out; it is continually bumped from today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s.
We also might see the other end of the spectrum where ministers are denied a time of rest from their own congregations, whether intentionally or not.
Regardless, if we choose to neglect self-care in our lives, we are demonstrating a much deeper problem.
Rest allows us to restore what has been exhausted and care for what has been neglected. So, what is stopping you from taking the time to rest?
Many individuals who work a full-time, 40-hour-a-week schedule find themselves clocking in anywhere between nine to 12 hours a day about five to six days per week.
I remember when I had first started as a young minister, feeling as if I could accomplish every task asked of me plus more.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I found myself often feeling sick or always exhausted, simply because I wasn’t getting enough rest.
I learned it the hard way, but it eventually clicked, “I need to rest.”
For others, the idea of hard work has been integrated into the culture for many years.
For example, as Americans we take pride in identifying ourselves as hard-working individuals. We hear things such as, “This country was built on the blood, sweat and tears of our hard-working ancestors.”
The idea of compromising our rest over our own financial success is still a problem that we face as Americans. Are we working 75 hours a week to live a lifestyle that isn’t even life-giving?
Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, the idea of rest is integrated into the culture.
In countries such as Spain, most businesses will open their doors bright and early, but then everything quiets down for just a few hours in the day and reopens in the evening once again.
While doing missionary work there two summers ago, my host family explained this gap as a time to find rest during a hard day of work.
We can research the importance behind finding good rest for your body and mind, but does this connect with our spiritual life in any way?
Let’s focus briefly on the wonders of God’s creation that can be taken for granted. From the tallest of mountains to the depths of the seas, everything was created with such detail and care.
Yet, even God found rest amid creating such wonders and set forth the Sabbath as a day of rest for humanity (Exodus 20:8-11).
As ministers or leaders, our ability to serve others well is compromised if we overlook the importance of rest mentioned in the Bible.
In response, someone might say, “Well, serving the Lord isn’t easy work.” No one can deny the hard work and effort required from any minister, but we cannot underestimate the importance of rest no matter how great the cause.
Taking a day off is just as important for healthy, long-term ministry as is preparing for and leading the weekly Sunday service, Wednesday evening class and the other endless number of activities.
Therefore, the whole congregation must also consider the rest their ministers need. Healthy churches should regularly ask, “Are we creating a space and time for our pastors and ministers to restore and care for themselves?”
We must take the time to pause and see the importance behind resting and how this simple task reflects our trust in God. Resting allows us to take practical steps toward healing and restoration of what has been exhausted.
In order to begin taking “steps into rest,” begin by scheduling a non-negotiable time of rest during the week. This might begin with a few hours on a Saturday and eventually expand into an entire day once a week.
It may take a lot of courage simply to say “no” to tasks and “yes” to a time of rest, but doing so will start a time of healing for the mind, body and soul.
Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series focused on engaging the emerging generations of faith leaders. If you know anyone who might be interested, encourage him or her to submit his or her article for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.