Activating & Resting

Written by April Diaz for Fuller Youth Institute:

Are you tired and carrying heavy burdens? More and more I’m talking with people—students, parents, youth workers—who are simply exhausted. And it’s more than just “I need a nap this afternoon” kind of tired. It’s more of a deep, “my soul is worn out” kind of tired.

I love youth workers because we have a bias toward action. We are people who are passionate about making a difference in this world in the name of Jesus. One thing I’ve noticed is that while we are pretty good at activating; we are not as good at resting.  By activating, I mean that we like to start things and tend to be very action-oriented, get-stuff-done, fast-paced ministry leaders. None of us lack work to be done, and it’s easy to say “yes” to that Kingdom work.

In fact, as a broader American culture one of the lies I think we’ve believed—even in the church—is that somehow activating is more valuable and spiritual than resting! Often we are so focused on doing and producing that “rest” is hardly even part of our vocabulary.

Research and common sense would agree that rest is as important as – or even more important than –activity itself.  As business leaders have learned from the world of athletics, “Sustained high achievement demands physical and emotional strength as well as a sharp intellect. To bring mind, body, and spirit to peak condition, executives need to learn to what world-class athletes already know: recovering energy is as important as expending it.” [Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, “The Making of the Corporate Athlete” (Harvard Business Review, January 2001).] While we may not ever become a corporate executive or an Olympic athlete, I don’t know of anything more important in the world than reaching the next generation for the Kingdom of God, a task that often requires expending a lot of energy!

Over the next few months, we’re going to take a look at rest as God intended it for our souls through the Ignatian Examen, silence and solitude, and spiritual direction. I believe rest is possible, even for youth pastors who are so good at so many things…but fail to rest.

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