"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:14
Nine times in the Gospels the scriptures say that 'Jesus withdrew' from the crowd so that he could tend to his soul and own spiritual wellbeing. As leaders we often run very hard and attach everything on our plates with great gusto. Eventually we will reach a place of exhaustion and the need to rest. One thing that I have come to understand about leadership is that God has wired me to work very hard and for long periods. Sitting down to rest for me is very hard. I have also learned that if I do not intentionally stop and rest I will eventually run out of gas and start causing damage to others.
You may ask yourself 'how can I find time to rest when I have so much going on?' This is a valid question and one that I can appreciate as a husband, pastor, and father of 3 girls. What I am not advocating is that you checkout of everything in your life and move to an island somewhere. What I would encourage you to do is to ask yourself some key questions. Answering these questions can help you find moments of rest throughout your day and week and can help you to not run out of gas.
Here are the key questions:
1) What things am I doing that refresh me? All of us have hobbies or interests that recharge our souls. They might be painting, fishing, hiking, etc. Find time in your schedule to do these things.
2) What things am I doing that drain me? In the same way that the things that we like to do refresh us, there are things that we do that drain us. Make a list of these things and work as hard as possible to avoid doing them.
3) What are my warning signs that I need to refuel? In the same way that the fuel gage on our dashboard alerts us that we are low on fuel, we need to identify and pay attention to the signs that we are running low on fuel. Losing your temper with your kids or not being able to complete assignments at work are some great examples of warning signs that it might be time to take a rest.
4) Who do I have in my life that can gentle remind me to pull over and refuel? Invite someone to invest in you and give them permission to tell you to stop and refuel when they begin to notice some of your warning signs. Your spouse is a great person to ask or a member of your Small Group. Giving others permission to tell you when you are running on fumes will help prevent you from running out of gas!
Taking time to rest and recharge is part of the rhythm of life. Jesus knew this and practiced it. So take time to determine what you can do to refill your tank.