Last month I wrote a blog post about burnout. I wrote about the reality of burnout and gave a few tips that have been helpful for me. You can find that here. In order to avoid burnout in our lives, we must become intentional about refueling ourselves.
Of course, when you hear the word “refueling” you usually think about your car. Without fuel your car is useless. It cannot run and it cannot complete the task that it was made for. Burnout can do that to us as pastors as well. It can tear us down, it can make us useless to some degree, and it keeps us from doing what God has created us for. Just like our cars, I believe that we need to constantly refuel ourselves for ministry. Jesus did it and he’s our example for our lives, right? Read Mark 1:29-39.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35)
My question for you is, If Jesus had to refuel, do we need to refuel? Not only do these verses show that Jesus took time away, it also shows that he made it a priority in his life and in his ministry. Jesus’ example in Mark 1 can teach us a few things about refueling ourselves.
Jesus got away
Now I know that seems pretty simple, but is it? Jesus made it a priority to get away from town and even to get away from his ministry for a little bit of time. He knew that the time away was going to make his ministry more effective.
Do you take regular time away from your position at the church? If not, be intentional about doing it. I know that popular belief is that the harder you work, the more people will like you. That may be true for some time but think about the negative effect it could have on your ministry and your family. If possible, I would even go as far as taking one weekend off every quarter. Get away with your family and just do something that you enjoy. Remember, leading ministry is more like running a marathon than a sprint. Taking time away from the demands of ministry will refuel you and prepare you for the next season.
Jesus went somewhere “desolate”
Is there such thing as a quiet place? I know that sometimes quiet seems like something we would pay money for in the ministry (if we had any). Jesus knew that the distractions of the town would get in his way of spending time with God. That’s why he was intentional about getting to somewhere quiet.
I’ve always had this practice of doing my quiet time right when I arrive at the office each morning. That was great for a bit but now it’s turned into a time that never is desolate. People are coming in, asking questions, calling the church, and just making it the farthest thing from quiet. I’ve had to change when I had my quiet time. You know as well as I do that your quiet time is something that you cannot afford to miss. Find somewhere quiet that you can go to on a regular basis. Spend some time there just listening to God and resting your soul. Being somewhere quiet on a regular basis will go a long way in refueling you for ministry.
Hopefully, your time away in your quiet place will lend you plenty of time to pray! Getting away, going somewhere quiet is great, but you must spend that time seeking out Christ.
Spend some time praying over your ministry, your family, and your decisions. Then just listen to God! He will always show you what is best for those things.
Jesus shows us at the end of the passage why he got away, why he went somewhere quiet, and why he prayed. He says, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” in verse 38.
After the time he spent away, he was ready to continue his ministry. He was ready to preach and go wherever God would have him to go. I think it’s safe to say he was refueled and ready to do the work of Christ.
Honestly, burnout can happen to the best of us. It happens to people who have been in the ministry 20 years as well as the ones who are just starting out. That’s why the idea of refueling ourselves has to be a priority. I once heard Doug Fields say, “Nobody will ever care about your heart more than you do”, so take care of it by refueling regularly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: C.J. SMITH
C.J. has been in student ministry for 9 years and in my current position for over 6 years. Currently C.J. is serving as Student Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Rockingham, NC. He has been married to his wife, Amber, since May of 2010. They are huge Tennessee Volunteer fans and have a four year old son named Neylan. He am a sports junkie who loves students!