By Mark Dance
Pastors are poised to save the world. As a result, we are generally a tightly wound tribe. Our bias toward action is rooted in our mission statement, which starts with the word “Go.” Ironically, we also have been given a clear directive to “stop” at least once a week to enjoy a Sabbath rest.
Remnants of Blue Laws may tempt us to direct our focus on what is forbidden on the Sabbath. Let’s take a moment to focus on the fun side of rest by considering a few ideas on how we can enjoy it.
Go outside and play
Last month I had a rare opportunity to bow hunt moose in northern Alberta, Canada. I harvested a bull on the very last day of the hunt, which was a bucket list adventure for me. Even if I had missed that moose, I would have come home refreshed because my inner child played in the woods with my friends for a week.
Fall is an awesome time to go play outside, regardless of where you live, or what you like to do. I assume that stalking a moose through thick brush and muddy swamps does not appeal to most of you, so be creative and ask your inner child what sounds fun to you.
For you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall (Malachi 4:2).
I am married to an avid backpacker who prefers climbing mountains to chasing critters. Some prefer to chase golf balls, frisbees, or scenic photographs. Others like to nap in hammocks, on porches, or their own bedroom–which leads to my next suggestion.
Stay inside and sleep
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is nothing. Staycations may be all you want in this season of your life. Make sure that is also what your family wants. Our bodies will signal when we are running low on rest or sleep.
In vain you get up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food —yes, he gives sleep to the one he loves (Psalm 127:2).
Some people are convinced that they need less sleep than everyone else. This dangerous myth can easily be rebutted by anyone with medical credentials. Ignoring your need for rest in general, or sleep in particular, will not only hurt you—but also those who you live and work with.
Block the 911ers
You instantly and intuitively know who the 911 people are in your life and ministry. They are the ones who constantly live in a state of emergency. Some are church members who have no clue as to what constitutes a real emergency.
911ers feel compelled to reach out at any time, and for any reason. Some are relatives whom you have allowed to successfully affix an emotional IV to your soul.
I am not suggesting that you shut needy people out if your life indefinitely, but I am suggesting that you set some healthy boundaries. This can be as simple as silencing your phone, turning off your notifications, or unplugging from your devices altogether during your day or season of rest.
If you pick up the phone every time a 911er drops the ball, you have become an enabler instead of an equipper. Good pastors recruit, train, and deploy other gifted members so that the ministry does not stop when you do.
Needy people do not intend to shrivel your soul, but they will if you let them. The fact is, you cannot rescue the world by yourself, nor are you expected to.
Rest and play are God’s gifts for us to enjoy, not just punitive commands for us to endure. Don’t be that kid whose parents have to force to go outside and play, or to go to bed and sleep. Instead, accept both gifts gratefully, because healthy pastors lead healthy churches.
MARK DANCE (@markdance) pastored churches for 27 years before becoming the director of Lifeway Pastors in 2014. Mark and Janet live in Nashville and have two grown children.