I can’t believe I’m saying this full phrase, but “15 years ago…” 15 years ago when I was at the beginning of my time in youth ministry with Youth for Christ, I made a great decision to go back to school for a Masters in Family Ministry. One of the best things I learned in my education was the best way for myself to rest.
Self-care is vital for anyone, even more so when you are in an emotionally or cognitively taxing position like counseling or pastoral role. And it stings even more when we preach rest, focus on God, and caring for yourself and others, yet don’t practice as you preach. At times it feels like too many people need our support and not enough time in the day.
Even then, we need to rest.
We Are All Weary
I asked a question on our Instagram stories the other day whether you are currently up for some rest or to go on an adventure. At the time, my thought was more in a place of, I wonder if people use their weekend to relax or to go do something.
While I am definitely making an assumption here, I can’t help worry about how high the response is for rest. It was a Sunday afternoon, we were already on the tail end getting ready to get back into the week, but the need for rest was high.
Why Rest Is Good
In ministry, I have seen a huge difference in how I approach working with students, parents, and other ministries when I’m rested versus working from a place of emptiness. As a counselor, needing this rest is even more true.
- According to a 2014 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 40% of people say their job is stressful, 26% of people are burned out with work, and even then, we bring stress from home to work and work stress home. [CDC]
- A 2004 study over 30 years found that continued or chronic stress not only is not good for one’s emotional and cognitive health, it actually negatively impairs the immune system. Being stressed will get you sick. [Psychological Bulletin]
- Only about 25% of Americans take their full allotment of vacation time [Center for Economic & Policy Research], yet we know without breaks and rest we are less productive. [University of Illinois]
How To Rest Well
As any good therapist will do, the answer is “it depends.” Each person is different and who you are today will change who you will be in a different season of life. But I want to give you some things to better attempt rest.
The Importance To Saying No
Many times we are exhausted because we are not giving ourselves time to rest. Pastors volunteer for more because “it’s a good thing to do.” But when as the adage goes, when you say yes to something today, that means you say no to something later. Make sure your saying yes is worth it in the future.
We polled a bunch of Christian counselors on what pastors should do on their Sabbath that have good ideas at the end of the article that you will want to check out. Another research report done this year we reviewed talked about how pastors are coping, some good and some less good.
Don’t Wait Till A Vacation
To simply take a vacation is not the answer. Too many times I talk with friends and coworkers who say they need a vacation from their vacation, yet have to return to work. If you are waiting to rest during that one week a year, you will burn out. Find rest in your day at work on purpose. Take your lunch always. And find rest after work as well as on the weekends. Take naps, but never going after 3pm.
These are our thoughts, but we would love to hear your thoughts or ideas about rest and how to do it best in the comments below.