Ministry Monday: A Perfect New Year’s Resolution for Pastors & Believers
Written By: Glenn C. Stewart
Whatever your profession (a pastor, a teacher, an engineer, or anything else), do you frequently feel tired, busy, and stressed?
Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” Here’s what you’ve got to see in Jesus’ invitation. He is not offering simply a cessation of activity. That is good and is truly needed at times, but there is more. This “rest” we need comes not just from stopping, but from being with Jesus, from communion with Him in quiet moments and quiet places of our lives. Our stopping has a purpose beyond stillness. We are to connect more deeply with Jesus Christ and receive from Him true rest (the underneath the surface rest we need). Let’s look at this more closely. In the Old Testament we are introduced to the day of the week known as the Sabbath. You recall it was the Seventh day (Our Saturday) and it was a day set aside from the normal pattern of work and activity. When God introduced it to His people, He cited His own pattern in the days of creation. We are told that after six days of activity in creating all there is, God rested. Not because He was worn out but because He was finished. He uses that to establish a cycle of work-rest for His people who do get worn out in both body and soul.
Look at the biblical record of the Sabbath as prescribed by God in the Ten Commandments…
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy,” (Exodus, 20:9-11, NIV).
That much we may have already known. But let’s go further in the Exodus account and discover the rationale behind such a day.
““Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:12 NIV).
Do you see the purpose? “May be refreshed.” The Hebrew word means, “to breathe” or “be breathed upon” like we would say enjoying a breath of fresh air. You see the purpose of letting the land, people, and even animals rest was more than crop rotation, or simply to follow God’s pattern – it had built-in personal benefit.
Notice, back in Exodus 20 that the Sabbath was “to the Lord your God.” This meant more than simply obeying God by closing the shops, coming in from the fields, and leaving the animals in the barn. It was about using the time to be refreshed in the Lord. In connecting with Him there would be rejuvenation, restoration.
So, what’s a perfect New Year’s resolution for pastors, teachers, engineers, doctors, parents, and everyone else too? Jesus’ invitation isn’t simply to take a break. That’s good, and break points are needed to avoid reaching the breaking point. But, He is saying “take a break with me.” You can’t come to Jesus on the run. You can’t do a fly-by with God and be refreshed. You need to set aside time to “be with Jesus.” For this New Year’s resolution, consider renewing your commitment to observe the Sabbath. Let the stress and business go. Let’s accept God’s invitation to spend peaceful time with Him.