Grace Institute News

June 19, 2013 

ignore the culture on this one....


Years ago, a man told me when I first arrived at a church, "We work hard at our jobs, we expect you to do the same." He had never met me prior to that comment, which made me wonder why he presumed I was a slacker. It probably said more about his feelings about the last pastor than it did about me. But it did highlight the fact that our congregations often transfer their own work ethic and expectancies onto the ministry, whether they fit or not.

If we are to measure our worth by the time we are engaged in output and producing, then we will find ourselves incredibly tired. The ministry requires intentional periods of down time and solitude not only for refreshment but to engage with God and allow the batteries to be renewed for creativity. Jesus didn't just walk around healing and serving meals to thousands all day long. He intentionally walked off by himself (no iPod) and allowed the solitude to do the work. That solitude was as important as the visible work he did. It would be pretty presumptuous of us to assume Jesus needed times of reflection and solitude but we don't.

A few years ago I got questions about the amount of hours our staff was committing to their jobs. So I asked them to keep a very specific log of the hours they worked and responsibilities they covered in that time. After the first week I told all of them to back down on the number of hours they were "working" and allow more time for thinking and processing. What I realized is that they were burning themselves out "doing" and weren't giving themselves the necessary time to process and empty their minds so creativity could seep in. The result of their lessened "working" hours was actually more productivity.

This isn't anything new. Most jobs offer periodic breaks because it's proven to increase productivity. But for some reason, we in the ministry have this false allusion that our busyness makes us more productive for Christ. We need to stop buying the lie.  Do you give yourself enough solitude and creativity time? Ask yourselves these questions:
  • How do you find solitude?
  • Do you spend time by yourself guilt free?
  • Are you afraid someone will see you taking a long lunch?
  • Do you think it is slacking to take time at the office to read?
  • Is your prayer time something you count toward work, personal, or what?
  • Do you take a Sabbath day...and is it spent catching up on everything you have postponed doing at home or is it restorative and recreational?
  • Can you receive permission from God to just be by yourself for a while and experience the fruits of doing nothing? Listen. 
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Michelle Jenks

Grace Institute