Oct 08, 2018
Rashard Barnes provides some very practical suggestions on how you can model rest for your students.
Over the years, I have been painfully convicted of how I do ministry. My philosophy was “grind until you shine.” My thought process was all about doing the nitty-gritty things to make sure that my ministry does not fail. I did that for the first five years, and then I realized that I am teaching my family, staff, and students a pattern that I do not want them to imitate. But it was already too late, and as I looked out among my staff and students, they were copying the same rhythms that I modeled to them. My staff would say yes to everything, do everything for the sake of Jesus. My students would do everything for the sake of their resumé, filling their schedules to the brim and then crashing mid-semester. Does that sound familiar?
As ministers of the gospel, we know that it is our responsibility to teach and train. So we get after it, we teach students how to share their faith, we teach them how to read their bibles, we teach missional practices for community engagement, but most of us fail to teach our students how to rest. As many of us know, we believe from the scriptures that rest is part of the creative order. In fact, it was not only included in creation and modeled by God, but he commanded it. In the Gospel’s we see Jesus model rest and command God’s people to rest.
Now, I am not going to get into a biblical theology of rest, but I do want to challenge you to consider how are you modeling rest and margin in your ministry? As we look to Christ, he was a busy man. He had the weight of the world on him, but he took the time to rest. He modeled to the disciples that rest was essential for the Christian life. So going to back to you, how are you going to teach your students how to rest in the midst of chaos? I am still learning, but I here are a few things I’ve found that have helped me develop a rhythm of rest.
1. I daily meet with the Lord.
2. I turn off my emails after hours.
1. I take a day each week to Sabbath. I try to include three types of rest described by Tim Keller:
- Contemplative Rest — This is a time where you spend some extended time of prayer and devotion to the Lord. This is the inner rest that gives our soul satisfaction in the Lord.
- Recreational Rest — This a time where you do something that refreshes you. Now there is a nuance between rest and leisure. Rest refreshed you; leisure numbs you. Do not get the two confused.
- Aesthetic Rest — This is a time to where you expose yourself to work that God has done in his creation. What this looks like is enjoying good music, visual art, and outdoor beauty.
2. I schedule time each week for family/friends — There is a challenge to confuse family time with personal time. It is crucial you do not confuse the two because you’ll find yourself not resting. Also, I would challenge you to spend time with friends to confess sin. This is good for your soul.
3. Turn off the emails for a 24-hour time period.
1. I go somewhere in the city where no one knows me. If you have some cool areas around you, I would encourage to get out of town. I read, write, and mostly pray. A practice that my previous church instituted was that we had 4-6 days where we could do this that was not a “vacation day.”
2. If married, take your spouse and spend a night out of your context alone. Take that time to enjoy one another and pray together.
1. I take a real vacation, even if it is a stay-cation. During this week or so, do what is relaxing and enjoyable to you. Hike, chill, swim, read, whatever is enjoyable. Eat some delicious food and listen to good music. Reflect and worship God for what he has done and pray for the things you hope God will do in the next year.
2. I also take a week sabbath to reflect on my life, my parenting, my goals, my relationship with Jesus, my marriage, and my direction in life.
Other considerations: Consider taking some mini-vacations. I often try to leverage the holidays to get a 3-day to a 4-day weekend.
Here is the deal: The purpose of rest is to enjoy God. The added benefits of rest if that you rejuvenate yourself. When rested, you are more effective, productive, pleasant to be around, and your students see you modeling this. But because of the Gospel, we get to rest to be reminded of the joy and freedom that we have in the Gospel. No other rest is like, and this practice in ministry is not only good for you, but it is good for you students to see. We teach with our lives. Resting teaches your students from where your hope comes. So I want to encourage you to consider some practices of your own as you engage in the practice of rest.