As I interact with pastors, I am generally seeing that they are exhausted.
Even before the pandemic, I was growing concerned for so many pastors when it comes to emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. Sadly, pastors are often territorial and isolated with only a few if any real deep friendships. With this lack of a support network comes a host of issues that leads to this emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. With my interactions with pastors during and since the pandemic, as you can imagine that emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion is exacerbated. I know there is currently a significant amount of pastoral transitions as pastors move from one church to another. Further, though I don’t have the numbers to back it up, there is a significant amount of pastors eyeing the door to exit vocational ministry.
The reasons for this stress and strain on leadership are many from increased conflict to the political and social polarization within the United States and the church isn’t immune to this polarization making the leadership landscape a preverbal minefield, and a thousand of other reasons.
I am gravely concerned for pastors. Many are tired and burned out.
What can be done to combat this significant issue? How can pastors have rest for their weary souls?
I am reminded of Matthew 11:28 when Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (NASB).”
First, notice that Jesus invites you to come to Him.
We have here an invitation to come to Jesus. Notice with me who is this invitation for? All. All are invited. This invitation is universal. Notice with me a little further, ‘All who are weary and heavy-laden.’ Simply put this means all those who are in need.
A little deeper we see the word weary. When we think of weary we think of being weary because of a heavy struggle. To be weary is to be utterly exhausted.
When we think of being heavy laden we think of being overloaded, of being burdened by a great load, or feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
Are you in need? Are you weary? Are you overloaded with more concerns than you can bear?
I’m reminded of a song by the Christian band, Third Day entitled ‘Cry Out to Jesus!’. Part of the lyrics says, “There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, and love for the broken heart. And there is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing, He’ll meet you wherever you are. Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus”
My dear pastor, find rest for your weary soul and come to Jesus, you are invited. You tell people all the time about this invitation, I want to encourage you to also take Jesus up on this invitation and find rest in Jesus for your weary souls.
Second, notice that Jesus is the source of rest for your weary soul.
So often we try to find refreshing in all kinds of different things. These different things we try to find refreshing are often not bad things. In fact, so often these things may be healthy and good things like taking a nap, going for a walk, working out, reading a book, or catching up on the latest TV episode. In fact, these things are wonderful at enabling you to have a mental break and giving you some time to decompress.
Yet the primary source of refreshing and rest is Jesus and Jesus alone. There is nothing that can be a substitute for the rest that Jesus gives to you.
I know, I know, you spend hours every week in the Bible preparing for preaching and teaching occasions and praying. I know things get so busy and it seems like you blink and it is Sunday. I know you want to make sure you a properly prepared to break the Word of Life for your church family. I know there are a million other things that try to vie for your time. And I also know it is so easy to allow that prep time to be a substitute for your own time to refresh your soul by spending time with Jesus through prayer and Bible reading.
Thinking back to Matthew 11, the rest in mind here is the rest needed to go back to the task with renewed strength and determination. My friend, Jesus isn’t finished with you yet, find rest in Jesus. Jesus is the source of rest. Go to Him O weary soul.
Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,
Doth now embrace and compass me;
All discords hushed, my peace a river,
My soul a prisoned bird set free.
Sweet will of God still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee.
-William E. Blackstone
My dear pastor, I am concerned for you.
If I may, let me encourage you toward a few things.
- Find rest in Jesus. Cling to Him.
- Find and develop some relationship that brings joy and support.
- Spend some time doing something you enjoy: going for a walk, playing golf, woodworking, taking a drive, putting a puzzle together, and such. For me it is riding my motorcycle, in fact, I call it wind therapy.
- Spending time and laughing with your family.