Healthy Rest for the Journey

Justin Jordan - Lead Pastor | Real Life Ministries Treasure Valley, Meridian, ID

A disciple-maker once said, “Justin, you must learn to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.” When I first heard those words, I was conflicted. On one hand, I wouldn’t say I liked the statement because I wanted results. I enjoyed the results of all the hard work I did for Jesus. Results that looked good on the surface, but deep down, they were motivated by selfishness and a drive to feed my false identity. I was consuming the lies of being affirmed as a winner instead of being a child of God. Who cares about the journey? Just be a winner and keep pushing. The end justifies the means. The other side of me was beginning to understand a new freedom my soul longed for. Inside of me was a wrestling match. My identity wasn’t based on what I did, but what Jesus said about me was a new hope starting to break open. Learning that my value is based on what Jesus said about me in the journey, that his value of me didn’t change based on my results or achievements, and that I can’t earn his love through what I did brought me to a new place of surrender. That day, I started walking a road with Jesus and my disciple-maker that impacted many different areas of my life. One of the topics that led me down this road is a healthy relationship with work.

Ministry is hard. Ministry is weird. Carey Nieuwhof says, “Ministry is strange. What you believe is also what you do. And the people you serve are also your community. By the time you’re established as a pastor, everyone in your local circle is either someone you’re serving in ministry or someone you want to reach. This can create many issues (for example, it can make you feel that workaholism is faithfulness—it’s not), but let’s think about the relational impact. No one can really see you as just, well, you. You’re always the pastor.”

Jesus has given us a model we can follow regarding a healthy ministry approach. Jesus did a lot of ministry, but it was out of His relationship with the Father that He could pour out into others amid great emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental stress. Part of that relationship with the Father means following the three S’s of rest: Sabbath, Solitude, and Sabbatical.

 

Sabbath:
Sabbath means to stop, to cease, to rest from work. Jesus invites us to rest in Him every day, especially every week, with a day where work ends (Matthew 12:8 & Hebrews 4:9-11). The origin of it starts back to creation, but often pastors choose not to sabbath regularly. I am a work in progress in this area and still need help. When I decide not to rest weekly, not only am I living in disobedience, but in addition, I put my emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental health in jeopardy for the long journey. I begin to do the work in my power. Jesus never did ministry on his power but instead trusted in the Father to accomplish the work through Him.

 

Solitude:
One of my favorite things about Jesus was how often he went away to be with the Father in solitude. We see Jesus seeking out solitude after performing miracles (Mark 1:35), in times of grief (Matthew 14:13), before choosing the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12–13), in His distress in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39–44), and at other times. Solitude was a consistent practice in Jesus’ life. For me, a rule of life is that elk hunting every year is non-negotiable. The solitude I experience is life-giving, and the moments the Father speaks to me on the mountain are sacred. Even though this is a rule of life for me, there are times when I even question this rule. Should I go elk hunting with the busyness of being a husband, father, and pastor? In these moments, not having the energy to go and starting to question my rule of life indicates that I am not well rested and still need to go. “To rest well, you need to be well rested.” -John Mark Comer

 

Sabbatical:
The word sabbatical comes from the word sabbath, as discussed above, but we also learn that the Israelites took a sabbatical year every seven years. In Leviticus 25:1-7 it describes that every seventh year was to be a time of no planting or pruning of crops. The Sabbath day was a rest every week, and this principle applied to farmland once every seven years. The people and land needed to rest for an extended period to reinforce the message that God was the provider and He was their rest. I believe that pastors and ministers need to do the same. Most can’t afford to take an entire year off. However, church leadership should provide a sabbatical policy for their staff to take 1-3 months of paid time off every seven years to recharge and rest in the Lord.

How does all of this impact your church? You reproduce who you are. If you are tired and burnt out, your people will be too. In addition, if you don’t rest well for the journey, you won’t finish the call God has over your life. Show them a better, healthy way and find your rest in Him

by

Justin Jordan
Lead Pastor
Real Life Ministries Treasure Valley
Meridian, ID