Pastor, you are called to preach. You are called to shepherd. You are called to lead. You are called to serve. You are called to sacrifice. You are also called to rest! This is especially important after this long season of stress we have all endured during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Because the Bible commands us to rest.
- The Old Testament principle of rest, enshrined in the teaching of the Bible in the book of Genesis and the creation account, is a call to us to a Sabbath rest (Genesis 1:2-3; Deuteronomy 5:12-14a). The New Testament teaching about the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ, removes legalistic interpretations of the Sabbath, and encourages us to find a time to rest each week as a matter of principle rather than legalism (Mark 2:27-28; Hebrews 4:9-11; Colossians 2:16-17).
- Because rest expresses our faith that God is God. Yes, if we take a day off, things may go wrong while we are away. But rest says to God and to ourselves, “It’s God’s church; God, you’re in charge.”
- Because rest enables us to perform better the rest of the week. There are innumerable studies, as well as life experience, that confirm that a rested mind is better able to achieve than a tired mind. You will be more creative. You will be less angry. You will see things more clearly. If you rest.
How to Rest?
- Turn off the bells and whistles. Go into your phone and turn off notifications. All of them. If you’re nervous about what you might miss, you can strategically turn them back on occasionally. But if possible, turn them all off all day.
- Lean on the old wisdom of sundown to sundown. Start your day off the evening before. And continue it until the next evening. That will give you 24 hours. And that will also allow you to begin to plan for the rest of the week after the 24 hours is through, so that you’re not running to catch up the rest of the week.
- Find time for a day off, and then stick to it. Every now and then you may have to work during a day off. Remember, it’s a principle, not a law. But fix your day off. Make sure people know when your day off is. Don’t get interrupted for the run-of-the-mill church crisis. Crises have normally been brewing a long time, and they will take a long time to fix.
- Don’t get lazy. Everything is a balance. Yes, take a day off. But one way to make sure you do, and your church supports you in doing it, is to work your socks off the rest of the week. There’s no doubt that there are endemic temptations to the pastoral role. And one of them is minimal supervision. Work like all heaven depends on it the rest of the week; and then rest like heaven has got it all covered one day a week.
The next step is to consider strategies for your time off—a hobby, a book, a friend. But for any of that to occur, first of all, remember, Pastor, thou must rest!
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, which proclaims God’s Word worldwide through daily broadcasts on Moody Radio, One Place, podcasts, and live-streaming on godcenteredlife.org.