Balance in Ministry
A call to Abide in Christ!
It’s a Sunday evening and another week is in the books. A new week will begin tomorrow and yet I sit discouraged, again. All the goals I had set for that week, all the habits I wanted to establish and all the task, remain untouched and everything seems the same. The desire for change, for structure, for balance, has once again failed me. Paul’s message in Romans about not being able to do the things he wanted to do, and not being able to stop doing the things he doesn’t want to do, feels relevant.
In our culture with its “hustle hard mantra” and a “do better” message, when we are spending hours of our days focusing on the picture-perfect illustrations of what our days could look like “if only we could get our crap together”, can leave us discouraged and overwhelmed. How do I manage to be a parent, a spouse, a ministry leader, a student, a disciple and a friend, and do it all well?
This is one of the hardest parts of ministry; the feeling of having to balance your service to others or to the church, with your family and possibly even your career. How do we give over there, and also make sure our dishes are done, our families are fed and our kids get the attention they need from us? Our hearts can easily be pulled in so many directions that we get overwhelmed and we quit. This struggle is something most everyone in leadership has dealt with at one point or another, and I want to share with you what God has been teaching me in this season, and give you some steps to take.
1. Learn from Jesus
I can’t think of the struggle between ministry and rest without considering the story of Martha and Mary in the gospel of Luke. Martha welcomed Jesus in, but Mary set at his feet. Martha was busy with service, but Mary’s posture was that of a pupil, which means she set at his feet to learn from him. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The yoke represents His teaching. We come to Him, and we take upon us His yoke, and we learn by following Him. In our service to others, and to our families, we cannot neglect to meet with our Lord in private, daily. David Platt says, “It is impossible to do the work of God apart from the power of God.” Trying to accomplish the work of the Lord without a relationship with Him will leave us overwhelmed with a mile long to do list, no vision and burned out. In order to accomplish His work, we need His grace, His instruction, and His vision.
“Your quiet time with God doesn’t have to be perfect, just let it be personal.”
2. Steward your time well
In her book, None like Him, Jen Wilkins says, “We can squander today by feeding two different sins: Laziness or busyness. Both the lazy and the compulsively busy person subtly rejects the God-ordained boundary of time.” We live in a world that demands business, but also offers up a buffet of distractions. God is abounding in grace, but He also ask us to face hard truths so that He can work in those areas of our lives and make us more effective for the kingdom. If we are going to be good stewards of our days, we first have to acknowledge and identify the distractions that are getting too much of our time and surrender them. Make the to do list, create a flawless schedule, but hold both with open hands and ask the Lord what work He has for you to do today. It’s a surrender of our plans, and our desires. We do not have an unlimited amount of days, and only God knows the number he has ordained for each of us, so if there is anyone we should be trusting our schedules to, it is God. Just because something is a good thing, doesn’t mean God has called you to it. This is why it’s so important to be spending intentional time with the Lord and seeking his direction, because we want to make sure we are saying yes to what He has called us too, and not just to every good opportunity that presents itself.
“When I consider the cross of Christ, how can anything that I do be called a sacrifice?”
When we begin to feel tired, overwhelmed, distracted, emotional and unmotivated, that is a pretty good indication that we need a Sabbath. Neglecting to rest, and I’m speaking of true rest, is an unwillingness to abide in Christ. We essentially ignore the guidance of the Holy Spirit and go rouge. When this happens, no Netflix binge or perfectly executed to-do list, can balance us. We need a biblical understanding of rest which is not the same as having a lazy do-nothing kind of day, though having days like that aren’t bad. God promises that he will satisfy, and replenish His people (Jeremiah 31, Isaiah 55) and Jesus says, “come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” What does that word mean? Basically, it’s a call to sit, be still, take your hands off and let the work go undone, as you fix your focus on Jesus, and preach the Gospel to yourself. Allowing the Words of God to come to life and fill you back up for the work He has called you to. It’s and exhale of your effort and an inhale of His finished work. Abide in Him to be and do only what He wills, the rest is in Christ and you can’t find it outside of Him.
It’s very easy for us to get wrapped up in performance and duty, our ability to accomplish task and be “good enough”. It’s in these exact moments when we feel the most pressure. We become weighted down by the burdens of this world. Jesus calls us to come to Him in these moments, and we will find rest. Andrew Murry, in his book Abide in Christ said, “Blessed rest, the fruit and the foretaste and the fellowship of God’s own rest, found by those who come to Jesus to abide in Him! It is the peace of God, the great calm of the eternal world, that passes all understanding and that keeps the heart and mind. With this grace secured, we have strength for every duty, courage for every struggle, a blessing in every cross, and the joy of life eternal in death itself.
Be encouraged leaders, as you learn from, surrender too, and rest in the Lord He will sustain, strengthen and satisfy you. We are so grateful for each of you. Be blessed.