Is it okay and is it helpful to sometimes take a break from ministry? For those of you who are regularly involved in ministry, have you ever felt like you needed a break? If you took one, how did it affect you and your ministry?
It seems to me, in the relatively short time that I’ve been doing ministry, that there are ebbs and flows to this journey. Sometimes we’re very energized and have a crystal clear vision in our ministry work. Other times we feel dry or jaded, and we know that we’re just going through the motions. Hopefully we have the presence of mind to take a break before we get to that state of being completely spent. That’s when the poo hits the fan, so to speak, and you don’t want to be around to see the results.
So take a break before the poo flies. I’m sorry if my vernacular is offensive–I have boys and my sense of humor has changed. Sometimes when we realize that we need a break, it can be confusing to others in the church. They have no way of measuring your mental, emotional, and spiritual state of mind. To them you probably look just fine! However, if you know that something isn’t right on the inside, you may need to take a little time to figure it out. Or you may just need that time to get refueled so that you don’t totally burn yourself out. Getting burned out in ministry is an ugly, ugly thing. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.
There are also times in our lives when there is just more “stuff” going on. An aging parent may require more care from their family; your child may be struggling and need your attention; you might be getting ready to move; your house may need major repairs; your job might be getting too stressful; your own health might be going downhill. There are any number of situations that can push us to our breaking point. Sometimes we need to recognize how close we are to the edge, and just take a step back to find our center again.
To me, that means coming back to that very fundamental relationship with God. In times of crisis we often forget to turn to God first–so you may find that you’ve gotten off the path a bit. Find your way back to God and rediscover what it means to be His child. Rediscover His love for you and yours for Him. Rediscover His plan and purpose for your life. We all need a reminder from time to time.
Get yourself back on track. If you are careening out of control, there is no way that you can effectively minister to others. God needs to be your stable center so that when the wind and waves buffet, you can stand strong.
I’m wishing you the calm and reassurance that comes from a strong relationship with God, and knowing that you are exactly where He wants you to be. If you are at the point where you know you need a break, bring it up in an honest and non-accusatory way with the person who is overseeing your ministry. If they’ve been in ministry themselves, they will understand what you are talking about, and will probably be glad that you are recognizing the signs before you crash and burn. Make your time off count–don’t waste it doing things that deplete you. Focus on the important things, instead.
I hope you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. I was rambling tonight, like a cowboy across the open plain. 🙂