by Mark Dance, Director of LifeWay Pastors, Nashville, TN.
Many of you are like me, overdue for a break. I have an encouraging word for you that I came across in my devotional reading: refresh. It is a Greek compound word that means “to breath again.” It can also mean to recover, take the air, cool off, or revive.
The holidays are a rare opportunity for pastors and other leaders to catch our breath by hitting the refresh button on our souls. I want to share three things that have worked for me over the Christmas/New Years holiday stretch.
Seek Out People Who Refresh You
We rejoiced over the joy Titus had, because his spirit was refreshed by all of you. 2 Corinthians 7:13
Many pastors and leaders are emotionally worn out and dried up from pouring into other people all of the time. That doesn’t mean you are selfish or weak, it just means you are human.
Although you obviously can’t avoid all of the needy people in your family and church over the holidays, you can intentionally seek out those who refresh you. Apparently the Apostle Paul had several people who refreshed him along the way:
I am pleased to have Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus present, because these men have made up for your absence. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. 1 Corinthians 16:17-18
Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea (drainers)… and that, by God’s will, I may come to you with joy and be refreshed together with you. Romans 15:31-32
Prioritize Your Closest Friends & Family
My side of the family is celebrating Christmas in my hometown of Tyler, Texas this weekend. Much food, laughter and golf is anticipated. Additionally, I have invited a handful of friends I grew up with to eat dinner together. We are a tight group that grew up in the same church, went to college together and eventually all served in full time ministry around the country. Some I have not seen in years.
Lots of laughs over Tex-Mex food is what a Christmas refresh looks like for me.
May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me. 2 Timothy 1:16-17
Notice the intentionality of Onesiphorus to diligently search for Paul in Rome. Friendships require work, but they are worth the effort.
For I have great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother. Philemon 1:4-7
Catch Up On Your Rest, Not Your Work
In my opinion, pastoring is one of the hardest job on the planet. Although I don’t pastor a church anymore, I pastor pastors and am having the time of my life, but I am spent.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. Exodus 31:17
This Hebrew word (Niphal) also means to take a breath and refresh yourself. Not that God needed to catch His breath after creating everything, but He knew we would be more likely to follow His example than His law. Since the #4 commandment is to stop (sabbath = stop), I will take this holiday break to throw on the ministry brakes.
After hosting fifteen pastor date nights and roundtables, and speaking at an additional fifteen other events this year – Janet and I are road weary. Additionally, I have written more this year than any time in my life. I have one solo book project that is almost complete, finished two collaborate book projects, and am currently writing/shooting 35 video deacon training videos. I also write lots of blog posts like this one. Writing is fun and fulfilling, but I need a break. After writing all day today, I will refresh my heart, soul, mind and body for a couple of weeks by stepping away from my computer.
You don’t have to be tired of ministry to be tired from ministry. I am not the only one to need a refresh am I? I hope you find (no make) the time in the next couple of weeks to catch your breath and catch up with those friends and family who refresh you. I would love to hear what refreshes you.