I was listening to the Bible on audio this morning, the book of Leviticus. I often hear people say this book is “boring”, or “difficult to read”, but I found myself fascinated, yet again by the breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Leviticus so clearly communicates the holiness of God! Ultimately all of the laws/requirements put forth in Leviticus point to God’s sovereignty and His purity/holiness, along with His justice, etc. Each offertory law given to the priests was a declaration that God is God; He is in charge, He is holy, and He knows what’s best.
One of the things that seemed to captivate me while listening was God’s laws regarding rest. One after another, like manna from heaven God gave them. These laws covered every aspect of the Levitical priesthood, as well as all connected to them. They were extensive. They were obvious. They were for God’s glory and our good.
In the midst of my listening to these delivered laws my mind seemed to focus on pastors. Pastors are notorious for disobeying God’s command to rest. The same pastors who stand behind pulpits and cry, “Thus saith the LORD” are typically the same ones that disregard what the LORD had said in regard to rest. No doubt there are many reasons this happens, including, but not limited to, pastors thinking they are healthy physically and spiritually, therefore they don’t need prescribed rest; having a church that doesn’t understand the need for pastors to rest; being so involved in other activities that there’s no time to rest; or simply being a “workaholic”. Regardless of the “reason”, disregarding rest is nothing short of disobedience, and disobedience comes with a price.
The question should be asked, what is rest? I ran across this definition, which I appreciate,
Rest is freedom from work, toil, strain or activity. Rest is the cessation of motion or action of any kind, and applicable to any body or being, as rest from labor, rest from mental exertion or rest of body or mind. A body is at rest, when it ceases to move. The mind is at rest, when it ceases to be disturbed or agitated. The sea is never at rest! (And many believers live their lives more like the sea than their Savior!)
This is what we need. We need rest. Rest points us to the gospel, to our ultimate rest. If we genuinely take our ministry assignments seriously, we will give rest it’s proper place in our lives. We must minister to ourselves (rest) so we can properly minister to others.
Here are some things that every pastor should consider in regard to rest:
- You are not a hero. The gospel is not dependent on you. Yes, you and your ministry is important, and while you are privileged to be an “ambassador with Christ”, you are dispensable. God will accomplish His will with or without you. Don’t let the position of pastor become an idol. There’s only one Hero, and it’s not you. Rest.
- You are an example. Your people observe you; it may surprise you just how much. When you work without rest, wear yourself out, and disobey God’s design of rest, they tend to do the same.
- You work better when you rest. I could share a plethora of statistics, but it’s really not needed. You know this is true.
- You better resist temptations when you’re rested. The tempter knows our weaknesses, as well as when we are weak. Our weaknesses and being weak at the same time can be a deadly combination. When we don’t rest properly, we are opening ourselves up to dangerous and deadly temptations.
- You model eternal rest when you rest properly. Physical and mental rest is not a coincidence. I’m convinced God designed it to point to eternal things. Experiencing proper rest and its marvelous result is whetting our appetite for our ultimate rest.
Although I thought about pastors, rest is necessary for all. Pastors, shepherd your flock well, including helping them understand the biblical mandate for rest. In turn, church members, make sure your pastor is at his best by encouraging him to rest properly.
I shall conclude with this quote from Charles Spurgeon,
Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less
Press on by resting…