Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of ministry is the fact that there is no end…
Whether that ministry is vocational or volunteer…
Whether that ministry is inside the walls of a church or out in the community…
Whether that ministry is very public or rather private…
Whether that ministry flows into the life of a large community or just one individual…
There never seems to be an end. In fact the end of one project or task is usually met by start of another (or maybe five others, haha.) Though this applies to anyone in ministry, this is increasingly true for those who are in vocational ministry. More and more projects, tasks, meetings, events, etc. stack up. Before long there is so much to do, that getting rest takes a back seat.
And rest is important.
Rest is essential.
Unfortunately it can be easy for your ministry leader to think that there is so much that has to be done, that there is no time to rest. And this belief will destroy them.
The "to-do" list often consists of spontaneous, unexpected tasks such as..
…Visiting someone who has fallen ill.
…Preparing a funeral at the last minute.
…The four o'clock in the morning crisis phone call.
…The fistful of little league, pep band, and choir schedules.
…The 15 minute shopping trip that turns into a 2 hour conversation with someone you just happen to run into from the ministry.
And there are the not-so-spontaneous, better planned moments that come along such as…
...Speaking at a local school.
...Teaching at the local Bible college.
...Working on projects with other churches.
...Visiting with families.
Many of these tasks come outside of the typical 9-5 workday, and whether they are anticipated or not, they still take up time. Most ministry leaders welcome them as they come. It is part of the call. But as the amount of things to do increases, the time for rest decreases.
Rest is necessary.
God commanded it (Exodus 20:8-11.)
Moses needed it (Exodus 18:13-27.)
Jesus needed it (John 4:6.)
Most of us neglect it.
If your ministry leader believes that they can't rest because there is too much to do, it will destroy them.
So how do we challenge this belief?
1) Give them time to rest. This is more practical for helping those who are in vocational ministry, but it can also spill over into volunteer ministry as well. If you have the power, give your ministry leader time to rest. Mandate it. For your vocational ministers this means that the elders, board of directors, senior pastors (whoever calls the shots really) need to make this a part of their minister's life. For the volunteer minister this means that others in the ministry or the ones who are overseeing the ministry allow, even require for some time to rest. Some churches do this by allowing their ministry staff a day off during the weekend, vacation, or some sort of regular time away. Every ministry, ministry leader, and church is different, so one method may not work for all situations. The overlying principal does though. Give your ministry leader time to rest.
2) Relieve them of tasks that are specific to their ministry. Now, this doesn't mean do all their work for them, but on occasion take the reigns. If we are talking about a preacher, let the youth pastor or one of the elders preach from time to time. If we are talking about a youth sponsor, hold their teen small group at your house one week so they can get a break. After a heavy season on ministry, let them check out for a bit. Because ministry often envelopes more than a steady 9-5, sometimes taking pressure off of these day to day tasks leaves room for rest.
3) Relieve them of tasks that are not specific to their ministry. There is nothing worse than spending 9-5 in the office, 5-8 doing visits, answering a crisis call at 9, getting home at 11 only to find that there are things at home you need to do. Perhaps we can allow them to rest by taking care of their yard one weekend or watching their kids so they can go out for a fun night with their spouse. If you are fortunate to have something like a beach house, offer to let them use it. The idea is that we are making it easier for them to find rest.
Now, let me be clear. There is a fine line between taking time to rest and being lazy. Ministry leaders are called to work, and dedicate time to their work. In fact, most of the men and women we look at in scripture are hard workers. I am not encouraging ministry leaders to be lazy or to run away from work, but rather to make sure they find rest AFTER their work. As with most things that I have shared in this blog series, though we want to encourage our ministry leaders, they still have a responsibility to take care of their selves and find a balance between work and rest. Our calling is to help them along the way so that as our ministry leader, they can help us along our path.
At the end of the day, what I know is this; if your minister, pastor, or ministry leader believes that they can’t rest because there is too much to do, it will destroy them.