Hi, my name is Barry and I have a rest problem. I know I should. I know I need to. But rest, for some reason, is difficult for me.
Without going into detail, the last several years of ministry have been challenging. In addition, the last two summer vacations were not very restful. From southern California family reunions to “staycations”, I didn’t rest the way I really needed to. As a result, I ended up paying for my lack of rest this past year. I was more stressed, tired, and irritable. I was spiritual dry, physically out of shape, and emotionally empty. My sleep suffered. My body suffered. My family, staff, and ministry did as well. I wasn’t rested enough to give them what they needed from me.
In June, the Elder Board of my church brought my wife and I in for some questions. They had noticed some things that concerned them and as a result, they gave me some additional time off this summer along with some clear directives when I returned. Words cannot express my appreciation for their love and concern. I am a very blessed pastor!
In Genesis 2:2-3, God set the example and gave the command to rest every week. I get this. I don’t have a problem taking my days off. I just have a problem shutting my brain off from ministry. There are people that are hurting, seniors that need visiting, marriages that are crashing, weekly messages to prepare for, upcoming important meetings to attend, new people looking to connect in our church, upset people looking to leave our church, a new building that need to be built, financing that needs to come in, and on and on it goes. I keep looking for the “off” button for my brain but haven’t found it yet.
Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “be still and know that I am God.” I get the last part of this verse. He is God and I am not. He is the Senior Pastor of our church, I am not. He is sovereign, I am not. He will work all thing together, I cannot. I just struggle to apply the “be still” part of this verse. I am not there yet but want to be.
This summer, I set five goals for myself: do not check my email, don’t read any ministry books, don’t feel guilty for taking extra time off, lose some weight and get in shape and most importantly, begin learning how to be still and rest.
I am glad to say that I have met my summer goals. I have come back to church more rested, more energized and refreshed than I have in many years. I feel properly aligned to be the husband, father, man, and pastor I need to be. Although there are challenging issues that our church needs to address, I sense that I am in a much better position to lead, encourage, and pastor than I was several months ago.
Several times this summer my wife said, “It’s good to have my husband back!” Since returning to work I’ve stopped checking my email at night and I am continuing to exercise. I have found myself laughing more and enjoying life again. Feels nice!