Hiking is so much like life! Constant ups and downs, wear and tear on your body, hidden and exposed roots that cause you to stumble, stony trails that cause your feet to burn and twist, steep climbs that seem to last forever, stinkin’ socks and fellow hikers, the burden of 25-40 pounds on your back, sloshing through a rain-soaked trail, and wishing you could carry your bed from home in your backpack in exchange for the ground or a shelter floor!
As I stood on one of the many awe-inspiring, give-God-praise views on the Appalachian Trail this week, I proclaimed to my hiking buddy, Rick, “And you ask me why we love to hike????” (Besides the fact that we just love being outdoors in the mountains!)
Men, one of the reasons we are prone to become discouraged in ministry is the view. Ministry can be like what I described in the first paragraph. While carrying the weight of “your church” on your shoulders, all you see are ministry deadlines, the constant burdens of others, unmet expectations, another sermon to ream out, your body wearing down, the battle of your flesh, and a mind full of stinkin’ thinkin’!!! Just like the old adage, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” You need to change the view.
Learn to rest! Most folks in ministry do not know how to rest! We are on the go 24/7 with our foot on the accelerator pushed to the floor. Even on vacation, we are still thinking ministry, taking calls, answering texts, and thinking about next Sunday’s sermon.
Rest breaks are crucial while hiking. As we climbed up the mountain to McAfee Knob and trekked the distance over to Tinker Cliffs, periodic rest breaks for water and a protein snack gave energy and heart to press forward. Even along the way, we enjoyed other views as we dropped our packs and briefly rested. We knew the extraordinary views were coming!
Your rest breaks could be . . .
- a drive in the country with your wife (no ministry discussion allowed)
- a walk or bike ride in a nearby park
- 15 minutes on the back porch singing and swinging
- reading the Psalms or Philippians for your heart’s sake and not for a sermon
- no phone at supper while remaining at the table with your wife to chat for 15-30 minutes at the end of your meal
- your prayer closet
- a power nap
- watching something humorous to get you laughing
- a cup of coffee or tea and a healthy snack
- calling your wife and talking to her like you did when you were dating (seriously)
- Facetimeing one of your grandkids . . . that’ll lighten up your heart
Ministry friend, learn to rest. Remember, Jesus went to the mountains and the wilderness to get away (Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12). You need those rest breaks more than Jesus did. You are not the Messiah!
The “hike” in ministry calls for periods of rest. The “views” will be much better when you do!