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The Need for Rest

The Youth Connection topics are also sent out every two months to youth leaders and graduates of our trainings. You can grab printable copies of them in the resources section.

at rest

One time, Jesus sent out his disciples to do ministry. The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “That’s really great! Now let’s begin to work on the upcoming feeding program.” Or that’s what you would think he said by observing the way many youth workers do the ministry.

Now I love being in youth ministry, partly because those who work for and among young people are some of the most passionate people I know. Here, I have seen people putting in the work hours that would match those of zealous CEO’s or professional athletes and for a much, much lesser compensation package.

But sometimes we take it too far. That is why I need to hear what Jesus actually said to his disciples after they had returned from ministry (this is in Mark 6:30-31):

He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

My tendency the day after the big event is not to rest but rather to start working on the next project. And I know I am not alone. When I meet up with fellow youth workers we often talk about having a 7-day work week or joke about having forgotten what a Sabbath means. The problem is not that we have never encountered the principle, it’s that we have encountered it already and let it slide. Why? It could have to do with the work load that youth ministers have (many of us have other jobs aside from youth ministry). Perhaps the hours we put in may be a way to show our love for the ministry. Or it can have to do with how we see others around us do their work.

Still, we cannot escape the fact that God rested.

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” Gen. 2:2

And he commanded his people to rest.

“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…” Exodus 20:9-11

Jesus, who knew his time on earth was only for a certain period still took time to rest (Matt. 14:31, Mark 4:37-38) and gave his disciples periods of rest (as in the verse I mentioned first).

God has designed us to take time to rest. As much as we may praise the human capacity to work, we humans still spend around a third of our life resting (or asleep). Compare this to another mammal, the giraffe, which only needs two hours of sleep a day. Our need for rest is one way that God shows us that we were made not just for work but also for rest. By this, God also shows that our activities are not indispensible. Ministry work often makes us think that God is dependent upon us when the opposite is true—we are the dependent ones. Our need to rest and sleep is one way that God demonstrates this.

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