Radical Rest

pastoral health

Permit yourself to disconnect to reconnect to Christ.

The idea of pastoral health is not spoken of often among pastors. Many are bivocational, serving in several capacities in the church and community, and work more than 40 hours a week trying to balance their calling with the demands of their personal and professional life. Many are overweight, short-tempered and constantly “doing.” This mindset has led to a fallen spirit that they are superhuman and can balance ministry, family, community, and work-life without ever taking a day off to rest. 

The effects of this mindset are seen through burnout, martial and parental issues, and ultimately ineffectiveness in serving God in their public and private times. No pastor is immune from pushing themselves to the brink of exhaustion, and without permitting themselves to rest away from ministry, pastors are heading for personal and professional destruction. 

Permit Yourself to Relax.

Whenever I would go on vacation with my family, I would struggle to disconnect and enjoy what was before me. Over time I began to realize that I was majoring in the minors. I focused too much on the little things back home and missed what I had in front of me. Make sure you have a structure to handle things back at the church before you go, but in reality, most things can wait until you get back. Letting go and letting God is necessary for permitting yourself to relax. Focus on what is before you and not what you have left behind, and find comfort in knowing Christ has provided this time to relax.

Permit Yourself to Repair. 

Ministry demands a lot from the pastor and family. With demands comes pain and sorrow from people leaving the church, questioning your leadership, judging your children and wondering why your spouse does not serve more around the church. Over time these slights add up and become significant sources of spiritual pain that needs healing. Taking time away from the pressures and stress of ministry allows you and your family to repair the hurts, heal from the attacks and seek God’s help when you come back to your local church. 

Permit Yourself to Restore.

When things go awry at church, there must be room for restoration of the soul and the church body. That can only come when the pastoral family has the opportunity to restore what has been lost through negative words. God calls his church to support the pastoral family with grace and understanding, and through the act of Christ-love, restoration can come to those harmed in serving the church.

Permit Yourself to Renew.

Taking time away allows the pastor to seek God’s face with a necessary clarity disabled by the busyness of ministry life. In the quiet time away, the pastor should pray for God’s direction, seek God’s counsel and enable the Holy Spirit to search the pastor’s soul for unaddressed sins. It is then that the healing of the mind, body and soul can occur. Renewal is the beginning of dreaming about what God can do in your present circumstances and how he can turn a negative situation into a positive one. 

In a few weeks, I am traveling from central Appalachia to Alaska to backpack and then camp in a cabin with no running water with a few other pastors. My wife asked, “Why do you want to do that when you complain about staying at a cheap hotel?” I know deep inside my soul that I need to disconnect from my current situation and hear from God differently. 

Permit yourself to find rest in ministry by resting radically. The radical change of being away from everyday life will provide me the space to relax, repair, restore and renew my heart and spirit to keep serving God as I prepare to launch into new projects and chase new dreams. 

Church leader, permit yourself to disconnect to reconnect to Christ. 

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