Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rest is the Youth Pastor's Missing Ingredient

In response to Mr. Brandon Barker's thoughts on my blog entry concerning idleness . . .

I think there is a huge difference between biblical rest (sabbath) and idleness.

One very convicting verse lately for me has been Isaiah 58:13-14, "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the LORD has spoken." NIV

This verse is giving directions and commands for our our times of rest (sabbath). We must not "go our own way," "to speak idle words," and not "do as we please." When I use my times of rest (watering horses, sharpening the sword, praying, worshipping, etc.) well, then I can find my joy in the Lord and be refreshed. One key idea I see in Isaiah 58 is that Sabbath rest is not about leisure, but about seeking God.

I struggle with work by being idle and overly busy at times. I also struggle with rest by being restless, anxious, and overbooked constantly. When I rest well, I usually work well, but it doesn't work the other way around for me. I am learning (being convicted) that I need to be a better at rest which seems to lead to better faithfulness in my role as a worker in God's field.

There are different times in ministry. Sometimes we work long hours and days. Only a fool would make that the norm of ministry. We do need "down times", slow periods, planning and prayer sessions, time pouring over God's Word, learning theology and ministry practices, etc. But to me this is not idle time, but a wise pastor gearing up for the crunch times. My problem is I fail to sit down and pray. I fail to rest and instead make excuses for idle behavior.

I believe that youth pastors who rest well are taking a wise step toward working well, but it takes discipline to be good at both rest and work.

1 comment:

Noah Braymen said...

You know a few passages popped in my head when I was reading your posts on this.

Proverbs 19:15 "Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger. [ESV]"

and

Proverbs 20:13 "Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread. [ESV]"

I think that rest and sloth are completely different states of mind...yet the same outward appearance. Deliberateness in the use of time is almost always good [Eph 5:16] whether for rest, work or play. You don't have to be sharing Christ every second to be productive...but doing everything in faith to the glory of Christ should be done every second [Ro 14:23; 1 Cor 10:31]. To not would be to sin.

My problem is that I'll say I'm going to rest...and I'll watch tv...and then I have a headache...or I just don't feel revived. So after all of that mindless numbness of vegging in front of the 'boob tube' didn't result in rest. That's not good redemption of the time...for my physiology:)

In Christ
Noah