Some of my favorite quotes around the topic of Rest & Renewal


Enjoy!

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”
John Lubbock

“Like a path through the forest, Sabbath creates a marker for ourselves so, if we are lost, we can find our way back to our center.”
Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”
Ralph Marston

“You are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.”
Ruth Haley Barton “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” p 29

“When we live without listening to the timing of things, when we live and work in twenty-four-hour shifts without rest – we are on war time, mobilized for battle. Yes, we are strong and capable people, we can work without stopping, faster and faster, electric lights making artificial day so the whole machine can labor without ceasing. But remember: No living thing lives like this. There are greater rhythms, seasons and hormonal cycles and sunsets and moonrises and great movements of seas and stars. We are part of the creation story, subject to all its laws and rhythms.”
Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus

“Some of us learn from other people’s mistakes and the rest of us have to be other people.“
Zig Ziglar

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Seriously, Why don’t we Rest?


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Why don’t we Rest?

I just got finished with three Rest and Renewal type events in April. I put on one for our 45 Staff (and their spouse if they’re married), hosted one for Youth Workers in the region (Soulitude), and finally, attended one (Solwatch) for my wife and I to fill our tank.

Why do I do it?  Because I truly believe in the Value of Rest and Renewal.

#1) Our culture does not know how to rest. People in ministry especially do not know how to rest.

#2) Youth Workers need a place to decompress – I want to help keep you in youth ministry longer. I don’t apologize for times of rest. You shouldn’t either. Ministry is hard. Rest and Renewal are essential to maintaining your effectiveness over time.

But sometimes I get the feeling that in ministry we feel like we can’t enjoy life. Like somehow we think our congregations wouldn’t be happy with us if they knew we were taking a vacation or something. Personally, I never took a vacation in the summer until I’d been in youth ministry almost 10 years. In retrospect, that was not just ridiculous, it was foolish.

I had taken a job at a large church, and the Sr. Pastor had told me no matter how much we grew, I would be the only youth pastor on staff and I needed to learn to utilize volunteers. A few years later I was running separate midweek services for Jr High and High School, running Sunday School for both groups and had Student-led campus clubs going on in all the area High Schools. I was speaking 4 times a week, leading worship 3 times a week, recruiting and training a team of volunteer youth staff for both groups, planning and running events and had no secretarial or other staff support. Crazy, I know. It all came to a head one September after three consecutive weeks of working 90 hours a week. Exhausted and feeling like a failure, I walked into the Pastor’s office and with tears in my eyes said “I’m not going to quit, but I can see the edge of the cliff from here.” That was my come to Jesus moment with burnout.

How full is your tank right now?

Full, ¾, ½, ¼, or Fumes

“How long have you been running this way?”

Let me remind you of a few things you already know…

God rested.

Genesis 2:1-3
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

He commands us to rest.

Exodus 20:8-11
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 31:13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

Exodus 16:29  “Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath…”

Who is the Sabbath for? Reread that last verse again. For Him? No, for you. The Sabbath is for you!

So if God modeled rest & renewal, and he commands us to rest… then, why don’t we rest?

Ask yourself:

Why don’t you rest? In your world, what is it that prevents you from resting more?

All of Creation models rhythm & cycles; rest and renewal. The sun, moon & stars each have a cycle in relationship to the earth. The Seasons all have a rhythm to them: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring again. The tides ebb and flow. Each day, each week, every month, all year, every year; has a cycle. Bears hibernate, salmon migrate, birds make their nest outside my office wall every spring. There is a rhythm and a cycle to all of life. When you run contrary to that cycle; life runs rough; and it takes it’s toll.

But Jesus offers us rest.

Matthew 11:28-30  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

So, if your yoke isn’t easy and your burden isn’t light; then whose yoke are you bearing? And who put it on you? Because God didn’t. Was it you? Was it someone else?

Ruth Haley Barton has several works that have been of immense help to me with this issue.

From her book “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” she recalls a conversation with her Spiritual Mentor regarding her inability to rest. She told her,

“You are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” (p29)

Rest is Biblical. And it’s not just a suggestion, it’s a command.
Don’t apologize for a healthy pace. Model it for your family, model it for the other staff at your church, model it for other Christ followers. and model it to the teens you work with.

Don’t wait. Rest, Renew, Refresh. Recharge. There’s never gonna be a time where there’s not more ministry to do. Put something rest and renewal on the calendar anywhere in the future and stick to it. You wanna know the real key to longevity in Youth Ministry? Pace yourself, it’s a long season.

~Mark


This was at Soulitude just a few weeks ago with 40 youth worker couples… ask me if you’d like to join us next year!

I’m so tired – How long can I keep running like this?


Soulitude: A retreat for Youthworkers Apr 28-30, 2013

How are you really doing?  When I get a chance to ask a friend this question, it seems like more and more the answer is something like: “I’m good, busy, but good. I’m tired, really tired.” Whether you’re a mom or a student or a youth worker… western culture today is unreal. We are running ourselves ragged trying to do it all. The expectations that we place on ourselves can be overwhelming. Smartphones have made us accessible 24/7 and that’s both a wonderful thing and a horrible thing. I can respond to an urgent email or text right now, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. And on the other hand, now people expect me to. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, are all fantastic to a point, but how much dissatisfaction is it creating in me because my life is not as good as everyone else’s seems to be?

We are so busy. Where is the margin in our lives? Where is the white space? It’s like our lives are a Middle School band on crack. Noise, noise, all the time, noise. Not to malign Middle School bands, but most have not yet learned to let the music breathe. From the first note to the last measure, every instrument seems to be in and running at full speed. Have you ever sat in the audience at a Middle School band concert and wanted to claw your eyes out? Why is it that a symphony can play the same piece of music, and it so beautifully gives life to the room, and to your soul?  Pauses, rests in the middle of the piece, let the music ebb and flow. Music’s life is found in it’s breathing. We are no different.

Have you forgotten how to breathe? When was the last time you took time to rest, really rest?

Rest and renewal is a principle that is found in all of life. The earth does it with it’s seasons. The calendar does it with weekends. Our muscles even need it to build strength: workout, rest, renewal. God tried to embed this in our culture from the dawn of Creation, literally, by creating the Sabbath. The Sabbath wasn’t for Him, as much as it was for us. He knew we needed to rest. I’m not promoting that you try to go all Old Testament here and do NOTHING one day a week. No cooking, no cleaning, nothing that even sniffs of effort… I’m not suggesting you do anything that radical.  But what would it look like to incorporate the Principle of Rest and Renewal into your life? What would that look like?

There are busy seasons in our lives, no question. When I worked harvest in the wheat fields of E. Washington, we’d work from sun up to sundown, 15 hours a day, 6 days a week, until the harvest was in. But you only did that for weeks at a time, not for months or years on end. 

If you are in a busy season, hang on. This too shall pass. If your busy seasons tend to go on indefinitely, then “Houston, we have a problem.” And it’s likely you. Maybe it’s your job, or your career field, but maybe the truth is that you kinda like running this fast! The question is: “How long can you run like this?” “Is this pace sustainable?” How long can you keep this up?

When I ran X-Country in High School, inevitably in every meet  there was a jackrabbit who would sprint as hard as he could right from the starter’s pistol, while he was in full view of the crowds. And every time, the pack would eventually catch up to him, a mile or less into the race, doubled over in pain, unable to continue.

Is this you? Are you running at a pace that is unsustainable? Is this a sprint or a marathon? Only you can decide which it’s going to be.  You cannot sprint forever. There is a price to be paid for your lifestyle. 

What is the real cost? Who’s paying it?

Is it your health? Your family? Your future? What is the real cost of your lack of boundaries?

Do your future self a favor and set aside a day, or an afternoon, in the next week or two, to rest and renew you soul. Do something that feeds you. Go for a walk in the woods, sit at the beach… read a book, sleep, breathe deeply. Turn off the world, just for a day or two, or even just for an hour or two. It’ll be there when you get back.

This is my 28th year of Youth Ministry. I decided a long time ago working with teenagers was going to be a marathon for me and not a sprint. If you are a youth worker, we have a Soul Care retreat you should come to. It’s called Soulitude. It’ll help. 

I know, you’re too busy, there’s no way you could take some time off right now. Sure, I get it.

If you don’t start now…. when? Put something on your calendar today… somewhere in the future, anywhere in the future. And STICK to it! Trust me, you need the rest.

~Mark

 

(Soulitude: A retreat for Youthworkers in the NW Apr 28-30, 2013)

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