“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Psalm 127.2
Most ministry leaders I meet are tired.
I had this thing as a young leader that work was good and sleep was for other people. I routinely cheated sleep and considered myself heroic for doing it. Know anyone like that?
Everything was sustainable…until five years ago. I hit a wall. A wall that for the first time in my life I couldn’t scale or climb. I just hit it. I was exhausted..burnt out or at least burning out.
I spent July and August 2006 so tired that I decided I couldn’t fight it anymore. What do you do when the only way you’ve known how to live and lead doesn’t work anymore?
Instead of fighting my body, I decided to cooperate with it. So I slept. I went to bed early. I took naps. And after two months, I essentially caught up. There was more to my recovery than that, but sleep was a huge factor.
I also learned this: if you don’t take the Sabbath, the Sabbath will take you.
Although this sounds very strange to say out loud, but it bothered me to admit that God couldn’t be argued with, that I couldn’t cheat his rules. Even in his name or for his cause.
For some reason, God envisions a life in which his creation spent at least 1/7 of our time on earth resting. Resting in him. In his love. It seems that God can get along better without our work than we can.
And what I’m learning over the last five years is that I’m a better leader, better husband and dad, and frankly a better person if I cooperate with the way I’m designed than if I fight it, like I did for decades. My spirit is gentler, my mind sharper and my input more helpful if I show up rested and ready.
I’m still not sure whether I truly take a Sabbath – where I fully disengage for 24 hours a week and truly rest in him. But I’m cooperating more with my body and spirit than ever before, and rest more regularly. I’m beginning to delight in God more.
You tired heading into the weekend?
I have a suggestion. Sleep. Take a nap right now. Go to bed on time. Stay in bed a few extra minutes tomorrow. Rest. Take a day off. Sabbath.
Your body needs it. And in the process you’ll discover something amazing: your strength is more limited than you think. But God’s is endless. And the next phase of your ministry might be built more on what He can do than on what you can do.
And you’ll feel better in the process. Tired leaders are tiring leaders.