My wife and I attended a family wedding last weekend at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, AR. After the wedding, we toured the Presidential Library with family and friends. There were some interesting exhibits from the Clinton administration, but what I found most interesting where the daily logs of the President’s activity. For each year of office, there are 12 binders worth of 365 itineraries. As I looked through the logs, it became clear to me that I do not want to be President. The days were mostly 18-20 hours long, and personal time was virtually non-existent. No wonder they all get grey hair!
As one who works in ministry, I got to thinking about my own lack of relaxation and personal time. I love my job. I love my church. And I love my co-workers. But even in doing what I love, I reach points when I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. This exhaustion steals my motivation, which greatly hinders my availability to be used by God. In those times, I need to step out and get re-energized. Some of the wisest advice given to me regarding ministry was to always incorporate a time of personal renewal, a time of family vacation, and a time of spiritual retreat. These three times are essential to staying in the game for the long haul.
Here are some interesting stats on ministry:
- 90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and most ministers do not exercise nor take regularly scheduled vacations
- 66% of church members expect a minister and his/her family to live by a higher moral standard than they do
- 80% of ministry families believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families and 94% report feeling pressures of being in the pastor’s family.
- 70% of ministers report not having a close friend to confide in.
There are seasons when we just need rest. These statistics show how Satan plots against us. Without a time of renewal with God, we will fall into the traps set for us. God has set an example of rest throughout Scripture. He desires for us to have a time of rest in Him. It’s a hard discipline to take time off and get away. I struggle with it, as I’m sure you do as well. I love reading and listening to Carey Nieuwhof. I especially like what he said on this subject,
“I get terrified by the idea of a real Sabbath – a day where I produce nothing…absolutely nothing and simply let God be enough for me. I’ve had very few days in my life where I completely did nothing…produced nothing, got distracted by nothing (no sports, no movies, no biking, no reading) and just let me be in the presence of God. Wonder what that would be like?”
I am taking next week off for family vacation, but the time away is already getting crowded out by other things. It’s going to be hard to “shut it down” for a whole week, but I think doing so will be a rewarding experience for my family and me.
Do you have a plan for rest?How are you held accountable to take that time of rest in the Lord?