Even pastors need time for rest and renewal

03/28/2014 4:00 PM

03/28/2014 2:25 PM

D EAR BILLY GRAHAM: As a pastor, I’ve always thought I had to do everything people wanted me to do. But lately I’ve gotten so tired that some days I have to force myself to even get out of bed. I’ve heard about people in business getting burned out, but can it happen to someone who’s supposed to be serving God? — Rev. K.S.

DEAR Rev. K.S.:

Yes, it certainly can. I think, for example, of the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament, who was used by God to defeat the pagan prophets of Baal. But afterward, Elijah was absolutely exhausted and fled into the wilderness, even asking God to take away his life. (See 1 Kings 18-19.)

What should you do? First, don’t feel that God is finished with you, or that your work is over. God might lead you in other directions in the future, but be sure he is the one you’re following, and not just your own feelings. God may even use this experience to help others facing similar situations.

In addition, get control of your schedule, and learn to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Years ago, a wise minister said to me, “I’ve finally discovered that God doesn’t expect me to do everything — even if some in my congregation do.” Jesus couldn’t do everything people wanted him to do, and he needed times of rest. On one occasion, he told his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

Finally, guard yourself spiritually. Take time to be alone with God every day, reading his word, the Bible, and committing your burdens to him in prayer. Remember the Bible’s promise: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15, NKJV).

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