Rest is Best

“I have so much to do!”

Ever said those words? I hope you’re laughing because you likely have at some point this week, if not sometime already this day. I know I’ve had it on repeat in my head.

The other day a youth minister told me that she worked for nineteen days straight. What?!? That definitely startled me, and I know that I’ve been guilty of spending time doing youth ministry or being in my office seven days a week at some points. I was the youth leader who would say “I’m just going to go in for a minute” and four hours later I’m still at my desk…

If you’ve been in ministry even for just a few minutes, you’ve likely heard about the incredible importance of taking a Sabbath. My Pastor was awesome about taking his Sabbath.  I would never expect to see Fr. Jim on Mondays, ever. In fact, he was so adamant about it that he pressed all of his staff members to do the same. Plus, if a Holy Day fell on a Monday and he was saying Mass multiple times at the parish, he still made sure to schedule in time off and away later in the week. He was determined to have his “me time” and keep holy the Sabbath.

As disciplined as he was and as much as he encouraged that time off, I was the complete opposite. I found myself caving to the demands, questions, concerns, and problems of parents, teens and even other staff members, which led to me rarely taking time away from ministry.

Major fail, my friends.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where there is little time to rest. We accept this way of life that somehow ‘being busy is better’. If we are lying around, we convince ourselves it’s a waste of time because we should be doing something else.

So let’s face the facts. There is ALWAYS something you could be doing! Ministry does not and will not, end.  Actually, the desire to serve more teens and strive for heaven with them should not end. And likely the to-do list won’t end either. But, just because there is something that is always waiting for us, does not necessarily mean that we don’t deserve to walk away and rest.

One of the greatest ways I could do youth ministry for so many years was that my better half worked a pretty standard 8-4:30 job each day. He has never had to travel or work weekends. The consistency he brought to our family allowed me to work evenings, weekends, and hours that I should not have even worked! And while that flexibility at times possibly took me to working overtime, his perspective on work / life balance is what taught me that it was OK to leave work at work (as best I can) and to rest.

A few years ago, on a weekend when we were overwhelmed and felt like we were treading water, my husband came into the house from cutting the grass and said we were cancelling our plans, our babysitter, and “going on lock down”. Sure, there was disappointment all around when we changed our plans. Yet, it was incredibly needed. Unfortunately, I discovered, that usually by the time as individuals or as a family we needed to go on lock down, we were weary and therefore all along, should have already been taking a Sabbath. So we got better at making sure our ‘sabbath’ language was part of planning out our week.

Somehow in this messy world, busyness has become a standard with which to hit each day. And honestly, it’s making us sick – physically, emotionally, and most certainly, spiritually. If any of you know little children, there is this PBS TV show called Daniel Tiger. It’s one that I almost force my kids to watch because I can handle the characters and songs they sing compared to others. That being said, there is a line in one of the episodes that sings  about how “Rest is Best” when the mom tiger is sick.

Maybe you aren’t feeling physically ill, but by any chance are you worn out emotionally and spiritually? When I am spiritually worn out, I am not the best person God created me to be. The attacks from the Evil One feel bigger and create this false sense of desolation in my life when I’m weary.

Okay so I hear what you’re saying Katie, but I work on Sundays…. I’m in ministry. Oh and I work a second job and I volunteer here and I have three kids and my spouse travels for work, and summer plans are just kicking off, and I have this and this and this going on….

Yes, yes, I know your life is full. Still, you NEED rest.

First, stop talking about how busy you are. Even if you love your to-do lists like me, stop making that define your worth and your success. I tried years ago to talk about how FULL my life was, and not how BUSY it was.

Second, find time to Sabbath. Look at the calendar (even weeks in advance) and be intentional about accepting some things might not get done to allow you to rest. Nap on Saturday afternoon instead of cleaning the garage. Feast with your family on Friday night. Don’t go into the office seven days a week like some crazy youth minister named Katie from St. Louis did all too often.

Third. Don’t check your email. No seriously, don’t check it! My mom just recently bought an iPhone and still doesn’t even have her email on it. I tell her it’s a gift not to have it at your finger tips and she agrees! When she leaves the house, she leaves that demand of her time at home.

Lastly, be at peace with saying ‘No’ occasionally. My spiritual director once told me that by saying ‘No’, I allow someone else to say ‘Yes’ to something. And also by saying ‘No’ I can say ‘Yes’ to my God, my primary vocation, and my children. In the end, we become better ministers when we take care of ourselves and our relationship with God first.

We should never have to prove our worth based upon the hours we spend doing ministry. God so very much wants you to rest that He even gave us a commandment for it! I know you have plenty going on, but we are better ministers and people of God when we can step back, rest, and keep holy the Sabbath day.

So where are you taking time to stop and to Sabbath this week?

About the Author

Katie Gray

Katie Gray serves as Life Teen's Central Region Director. She spent six years leading Life Teen and Edge at a parish in St. Louis and adores a good dance party with her husband and daughters. Her goals each week include getting closer to Heaven, eating chocolate candy without nuts, and spending less than $100 at Target. You can follow her crazy blessed life at LT_katieG.

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