Rest for Your Soul
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” St. Augustine, Confessions
Today, I had lunch with a friend. He is a pastor and has been for a long time. He’s tired.
I spoke to a ministry CEO last week. He’s exhausted.
Serving God. Serving others. Worn out.
Not too long ago, that was me, at my end. I was running on fumes. Fatigued. Burned out. Weary. Sapped. All of those.
As a minister, you are with people during life’s hardest moments. Your church members draw strength from you. You watch over souls as a shepherd, “…for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account” (Heb. 13:17).
What about You?
How are you caring for your soul?
Perhaps you are a nonprofit leader and laborer. Articulate vision. Determine strategy. Raise money. Oversee mission. Manage people. Get results. Articulate newer and bigger vision, increase revenue, gain more impact, etc. Sound familiar?
If you work in disaster relief, healthcare, counseling, physical and emotional abuse, or mental health, how is your mental health?
Is Your Soul Healthy?
Does your soul feel healthy?
You can be good at caring for others and not very good at watching over your own soul.
You are your own soul's steward.
You are your own soul’s steward. Your soul’s care is entrusted to you. It is your responsibility to meet its needs. What does your soul need? Your soul needs rest and intentional time with God.
“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him” (Psalms 62:1).
Rest is not a sin. God set the example for us after Creation. Jesus took time to rest and encouraged it: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). Rest is time to repair, refresh, and receive.
Thirsty for God
Would you like to hear God’s voice again? Doesn’t that sound great?
Solitude and silence. You need time alone with God, without any other voice but his. This is how you strengthen your soul.
After many years in ministry, I became a victim of the well-meaning, results-oriented, high-productivity culture I created. Often, I would say, “I don’t rest well.” And I didn’t. This changed for me when I made rest and soul care a part of the regular rhythm of my life.
“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2)
That is a great question. If your soul is thirsty for God, when can you go and meet with him?
Consider a Sabbatical
If your main job as a leader is to hear from God, determine direction for your team, and know which side of the boat to cast your net on, you must get quiet before him.
Take a sabbatical every seven years. I recommend three months.
No research. Don’t write a book. Time with God is the goal. Unplug. Disconnect from your organization. Court the Lord. Heal up. Refuel. Hear from God.
Come back and give your organization the vertical lift it needs.
Calendar Personal Spiritual Retreats
Prioritize God. Incorporate shorter, intentional blocks of time with the Lord into your regular schedule.
One week a year, two days a quarter, or both, go to a hotel, cabin, Airbnb, etc. – just you, a Bible, a yellow pad, and God.
Spend one day each month away from your office. Turn your notifications off. Use it as either a personal spiritual retreat, a strategic thinking day, or both.
As I write this, our Chief Operating Officer is on a seven-day personal spiritual retreat. I encouraged it. He will come back better than ever.
Critique Your Daily Devotional
I’ve read that CEOs spend over 70 percent of their time in meetings. As a ministry leader, how often are you meeting with God?
As a ministry leader, how often are you meeting with God?
God’s Word refreshes the soul (Psalm 19:7). Withdraw from the busyness for daily solitude and spiritual reflection.
Do it for your soul, not your job. We all need Bible study that is not for the next sermon or promotion of our ministry. Prioritize time that is about you and him.
Perhaps you needed someone to tell you that it may be time to tend to your soul.
I asked the Lord what he wanted me to say to those who might read this. He said to tell you, “I’ll be waiting. I miss you.”
If that message is for you, I pray that you will know it.
“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” (Matt. 11:28-29).
Guard your soul. Get some rest.
Dustin Manis serves as President & CEO at Reaching Souls International. This year, Reaching Souls will see 10 million decisions to follow Christ and plant 6,000 churches through 2,500 National Missionaries in 14 countries. Dustin holds an MA in Philanthropy and Development. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn.
Dustin Manis is teaching a workshop “Sabbatical and Soul Care” at The Outcomes Conference 2023 in Chicago, March 28-30. >> Register to Attend