If you volunteer in any sort of ministry serving children, teens and their families, you probably don’t think much about spiritual burnout. That’s something experienced by paid ministry staff, right? The reality is that done well, ministry involves giving. Sometimes it’s money or time. Almost always though, when you minister to others, you give them a piece of your heart, mind and energy.
Over time, if you don’t refill your metaphorical spiritual cup, you may find yourself feeling like you are slogging through mud. Teaching and mentoring start to feel like chores rather than something you are passionate about doing. You may even find yourself letting ministry phone calls go to voice mail or ignoring texts – even pretending you don’t notice opportunities to serve someone.
The ironic thing is that Jesus was great about consistently recharging his spiritual batteries. It appears from the Gospels that Jesus consistently took time to rest and reconnect with God. Yet for some reason, we feel guilty when we allow ourselves to do the same.
Perhaps it’s because our tendency is often to do things in our rest time that don’t really refresh us. Instead of praying, we watch a movie. Or instead of finding a quiet place to be alone, we got out to eat with friends. It’s not that those things are wrong. They just won’t have the same spiritual restorative power that true rest, solitude and reconnecting with God will give you.
How often should you rest and recharge? The Bible doesn’t tell us any specifics for Christians. We do know God rested one day after six days of Creation. We also know the Israelites celebrated rest on the Sabbath – one day a week. One entire day may feel impossible to take for rest every week. If you have gotten out of the habit of giving yourself meaningful rest, try even four hours once a week.
During your time of rest, try to do some of the things that will truly provide refreshment and reconnection with God. You may want to walk if you are more active or sit to rest your body, too. Perhaps you want to read the Bible or a Christian book. Prayer is also refreshing. Others may find journaling or a simple craft like cooking or knitting provides rest (although traditionally the Sabbath forbade any type of work).
Try putting some Sabbath type rest back into your week. See if you don’t find yourself feeling more refreshed in your ministry. If Jesus found it helpful, I’m pretty sure we will, too.