Calling a ministry time-out

Ijust talked to a highly effective yet exhausted pastor who was looking for some ministry coaching on keeping a sustainable schedule. This particular conversation happened to be on the same day I read Mark 6, a passage which finds Jesus and His apostles depleted after the funeral of John the Baptist: 

“His disciples … came and removed his corpse and placed it in a tomb. The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.’ For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place” (Mark 6:29-32).

Jesus and His dozen disciple-apostles were exhausted from a ministry sprint that included Him resurrecting Jarius’ daughter followed immediately by the execution of John the Baptist. One thing ministry peaks and valleys have in common is they leave us exhausted and in need of a recharge. 

Perhaps I’ve caught you at the end of a ministry sprint and you are in much need of a time-out. I found a few practical reasons in this passage to do just that: 

Take a time-out to assess your ministry

I don’t know how many times I have experienced the burn of burnout only to look on my calendar and see how long it had been since I took a real break from my ministry routine. If you have gone more than three months without taking a break from preaching or teaching, you will experience this burn. 

Remember that you are an equipper who has been called to prepare others for ministry. If you are not equipping people for ministry, you are robbing them of it and inadvertently robbing yourself of an opportunity to recharge. 

Who speaks into your schedule consistently? Allow a handful of people from your family, ministry, and friendship circles to call a time-out for you when you become blind to your own limitations. 

Take a time-out where nobody needs you

I realize this is much easier to write about than to do. Ironically, it usually takes some effort to get rested. 

Intentional time-outs are usually a result of some advanced planning. Finding a remote cabin or retreat center that is accessible and affordable is something you probably don’t have spare time to research. Why not ask for help? Most of us belong to an association of churches or a denominational organization that can help you find a remote place. 

Take a time-out to care for yourself

Sometimes stress drives us to work through breakfast or lunch. I got into this harmful cycle a few years back and experienced a season of burnout that led to clinical depression. My normal work cycle had become a work cyclone and I neglected my body, mind, and spirit. 

Jesus called a ministry time-out for His leaders because they were tired. Although not every pastor in Texas will read this, I am praying the ones who need it most will respond by taking time for a time-out this summer. 

Director of Pastoral Wellness
Mark Dance
Guidestone Financial Resources
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