Do you have to fight really hard to make yourself take time to stop?
Whenever I read John 15 it never ceases to challenge me. For example from verses 5&6 ‘If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing….. if you do not remain in me you are like a branch that withers’.
To ‘remain’ or ‘stay’ requires a good rhythm of life and must include times of rest.
We all know how vital it is to rest both for ourselves and our ministry but making it happen is sometimes incredibly hard. Yet the process must be fundamental to our fulfilment of the vision we are called to.
It is not enough to work hard in our own strength. We must be sure to step back and let God guide us. Taking time to rest is part of that.
Here are my top tips for making rest happen:
1. Choose the time and stick to it.
It’s best if it’s not a last minute decision. Rest time needs to be put in the annual calendar as you’re planning ahead so that it becomes a period to anticipate, plan for, and look forward to.
If you’re like me this is a challenge. I may forward plan a time to rest but making it happen especially when you are in church leadership can be the hardest thing. In the UK August is often a good time, it is traditionally a time when many people take a holiday. Meetings can’t be scheduled as easily because folk are away; we had a rule that our Missional Communities did not formally meet in August.
2. Create some parameters: what you will and will not do.
Try to stop as many of the routine things as you can – especially meetings! This particularly applies to your missional community. If you can, go away. It is good to get away from familiar surroundings. If you’re not going away try to adjust your routine. When you need to be in your place of work don’t stay late. To ensure people are not disappointed tell your missional community, colleagues and those who report to you that you are taking time to rest and are therefore not available in the way you usually are. Strongly urge them to do the same.
3. Be kind to yourself.
Have fun. Do the things you enjoy. Spend quality time with your friends and family. Do things that help you relax and try to forget about the routine. Make space in the day when you do nothing. Get some good times of sleep. Ask friends to pray for you to be refreshed and revitalised over this time.
When on holiday in Scotland we visited a viewpoint near the junction of the A83 and the B828, named – Rest and be thankful. These words are inscribed on a stone placed there by soldiers who built the original military road in 1753, The section is so named as the climb out of Glen Croe is long and steep that at the end it was traditional for travellers to rest at the top, and be thankful for having reached the highest point.
In church leadership there are always immediate pressing needs to be met but unless we can take the time away from these needs we may lose clarity in terms of our calling.
You may not feel that you have reached your highest point but rest and enjoy what you see!
‘Failing to plan is planning to fail!!’
Jenny Rosser lives in Durham with her husband David. They have been involved in the developement and implementation of missional communities for the past 10 years.