a peaceful park bench illustrates the idea of finding rest in ministry.

Taking Time for Rest in Ministry

By Gordon Rowland, District Representative

During the three years of our Lord’s earthly ministry, there were many times when he was overwhelmed by the busyness of his schedule and the crowds of people that continually surrounded him. Yet he knew how important it was to have times of rest away from the crowds and the busyness.

Jesus Needed Time for Rest

The gospel of Mark is like a rapid-fire account of events in the daily life of Jesus and his disciples. In chapter one Mark records Jesus’ healing of a man with an unclean spirit, then healing Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. Then, that same evening, people from all over Capernaum were coming for healing. It was a very busy day, with no break or time to rest. But Jesus knew that time away was important and the very next verse tells us that, “…rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 ESV)

This is only the first of several times in Mark’s gospel where we read that Jesus went away to an isolated place to find some rest and have time to pray and recharge. After periods of intense busyness serving others, he knew that it was important to take some time away from the crowds.

We Need Time for Rest

Jesus knew that his followers also needed time for rest from the busyness of work and service. In Mark 6, Jesus called the twelve and sent them out for an extended period of ministry in the towns around Galilee. At the end of that time, we find the disciples returning to recount their experiences (Mark 6:30). At this point we read, “And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” (Mark 6:31-32 ESV)

I don’t think that we are much different than people were in Jesus’ day. Whether in vocational ministry or any other kind of work or service, we all need time away from busy schedules. Our Village Missionaries are encouraged to take a day off every week, to spend time alone or with family – time that is not interrupted by phone calls and emails. Vacation time is also important, when families can have an extended time away from the ministry to rest and recharge their spiritual, physical and emotional batteries.

Cycles of Work and Rest

There are times in ministry when intense work and effort is required. But sustained exertion with no time to rest will soon lead to burn out and often end with an exit from ministry. A cycle of work and rest can help to keep a person going for the long haul.

Jesus told his disciples to come apart and rest a while. A wise sage has also said that if we don’t come apart for a while to rest, we may just “come apart.” God created us with a need for breaks from labour and toil. He set the example in His own creation activities. He spent six days creating and fashioning our world and then rested on the seventh day. He intended that we too should have times of rest built into our schedules. We need to intentionally schedule time for rest, relaxation, and renewal.

Gordon Rowland is the District Representative
for the Prairie Provinces

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