As we close out 2014 we find ourselves reflecting on where we’ve seen God in the past year. One way we’ve seen Him is in the lives of leaders who intentionally take time to rest and be renewed in their relationship with God and those closest to them. Below we share more about the value of rest and margin in the life of a Christian leader.
This post continues to use the analogy that just as healthy soil is essential for growing trees, so a healthy heart in a leader is essential for bearing lasting fruit in the kingdom of God. Let’s look at what happens to a tree if the soil is compacted. Then we’ll look at home this connects to rest and margin in the life of a leader.
*Compaction of Soil-
Another issue that effects the health of soil, and therefore the ability for a healthy tree to grow, is the ratio of oxygen to water. Healthy soil is made up of 50% oxygen and 50% water. If this ratio is off and their isn’t enough oxygen in the soil a tree will not thrive. We equate the need for oxygen to the need each leader has to connect intimately first with Jesus, then with people close to them, and finally to the people they serve.
“Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus, Matthew 11:28
Rest and Margin-
So often being a ministry leader involves doing, doing, doing to the point of utter exhaustion and burn out. The Alban Institute suggests 20%-30% of ministry leaders are in a state of severe burnout and another 20% are on their way toward burnout. No matter the inner spiritual questions or family challenges or physical issues facing a Christian leader they are called upon to provide leadership and care to people. The passion they are seeking to pass on to others- a life lived in intimate relationship with Jesus- is often no longer a reality for them. On top of that reality, the needs of people are usually overwhelming and leaders start to take on superhuman size responsibility while the relationships closest to them, with Jesus and their family, suffers deeply.
It’s a huge challenge to take time to pray or dig deep in God’s word or simply be still with Him when there our countless people who need your guidance or care, or programs that require attention. It can seem silly or selfish to a leader to take a night to watch a movie or carve out a day for a hike when the world needs Jesus. Yet these times of rest and relational renewal are vital to the emotional and spiritual health of the leader. Just as the soil needs as much oxygen as dirt, so ministry leaders need space to breathe spiritually and emotionally just as much as they need an active life of service.
The PRT encourages a lifestyle of resting through relationship with Jesus and others. A life and ministry-changing guided sabbatical is strongly encouraged for those who have been in ministry for 7-10 years. The PRT offers a seminar to help leaders understand the Biblical foundation for this time, to help them prayerfully and thoughtfully plan for this experience, and to make sure community is a significant part of this journey. Below you will hear a brief personal story of christian leaders that we joined on this sabbatical journey.
A Story from Christian Leaders: From Burnout to Renewal
“Our time with Mark and Leigh Ann was simply terrific. They have walked beside us on a journey that included burnout, depression and some serious cynicism targeted at the church. As we shared with them many months ago, they gently suggested that we consider taking a sabbatical. We weren’t open to it at first, but God has a way of using the wisdom of friends when the moment is right. Our sabbatical, for which we adopted the Navigators outline, has been one of the most refreshing and healing times in our lives. As the end of the sabbatical drew near, we were anxious about asking the question “What is next?” Mark and Leigh Ann encouraged us to participate in the Personal Resource Team’s “Personal Contribution Assessment.” Between the excellently facilitated learning sessions and the one-on-one pastoral conversations we shared with Mark and Leigh Ann, we found the wisdom to focus on our God-given graces, gifts, and values, and courage to move forward in new directions. We can’t say enough about the impact of Jesus-centered friendship and spiritual formation that is happening because of our time with the Looyengas.”
*Adam and Mary Hoyt served refugees in Clarkston with The Mission Society for 8 years. They are beginning a shift in ministry toward creation care and small business creation. They are trusting God for an opportunity to move into international mission in these areas in the near future.
So as 2014 draws to an end we continue to be passionate about creating spaces for leaders to rest and be renewed in their relationship with God and one another. As you finish this year are you in need of rest or renewal in your closest relationships?