“I’m busy all the time,” a pastor told me. “And I love it!” But a few years later he blew out and lost his church.
Then he let me inside the world of his soul. “Growing my church was like a drug,” he confessed. “I miss being the one in charge and on stage. I miss leading the community. I’m bored.”
Boredom was right where he needed to be for his soul therapy to begin.
In his church role my friend never let himself get bored. He’d work himself to death and then at night he’d collapse on the couch and binge on Netflix with a beer in hand.
Ministry is stimulating. Shepherding, preaching, leading groups, and serving the Lord to help people are all things that boost our ego and excite our emotions. We’re getting noticed. We’re making a difference. We feel important.
Ministry makes us feel close to God, even if our heart is far away.
Ministry makes us feel above other people, more mature, more capable, more significant.
But all the while we feel alone and insignificant inside. Just like everyone else.
As a Christian leader, whatever your level or role, it’s easy to forget that you’re an ordinary person. You start downplaying your own brokenness, neglecting your own soul, and shortchanging your own family because the work of the ministry and the needs of the people you serve are so compelling.
The essential soul therapy for pastors and all kinds of men and women in ministry is to rest for at least 24 hours. It’s taking a Sabbath day.
“Do nothing. Don’t try to make anything happen.” That was Dallas Willard’s counsel to me when he was mentoring me.
But when you stop all your work and productivity for a full day you’ll feel bored, empty, insignificant, and alone. You might also feel anxious, depressed, jealous, angry, or resentful. You might realize how much you dislike or even hate yourself.
It can be painful to come face-to-face with your inner self.
There’s a gift in the pain. It pushes us to cry out to God and safe friends for the care we need. Then when we’re real and raw in relationships grace can do its work to shape us more into the glorious image of Christ.
Sabbath rest in turn enables and empowers fruitful ministry and leadership.
That’s the other side of boredom: real rest and real fruit.
It’s your choice. Get inspired to learn how to live and minister out of Sabbath rest (in the easy yoke of Jesus). Or keep pushing yourself until you blow out and find yourself flat on the ground.
At Soul Shepherding we teach pastors and leaders how to rest. We do that through counseling, 5-day retreats, and Sabbatical coaching. Contact us if you need help.
Rest: Permission to Stop
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“Thanks for your devotional resources that give me insight to inspire the families in my church.”
Reynaldo ~ Pastor ~ Phillippines