A Few Tips for Pastors Who Don’t Know How to Stop Working and Rest

“Do not sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry.”

Those were the words of a seasoned pastor I listened to, sitting in my first ministry training course. I was newly married, preparing to step into the world of overseas missions, determined to do what he said.

Fast forward 15 years. I’m on my fourth church plant. It’s Thursday night — family movie night. But while my kids are watching the movie I’m sneaking emails and texts like a teenager hiding from his parents. This was supposed to be a time of rest… of pulling away from work to recuperate, reconnect with God, and re-establish our love for each other within our family. But there I was, with every text, offering up a little sacrifice to my work at the expense of my family.

Church planting can be exhausting. Starting anything is hard. It takes all of your effort, and then a whole helping of God’s grace to establish a gospel outpost in a hard place. But the God who called you there didn’t call you to work without ceasing. He gave you the work and invites you to rest. So, here are a few rest tips from a rest failure like me, learning how to lay down my work so I can take up some Sabbath habits.

Put the Phone Away

It sounds so simple, but it’s so hard. These little devices we carry to help us end up enslaving us. Work hard, pastor. But when it’s time to rest, put your phone down. Your kids see you. Your wife sees you. When you’re with them, don’t show them downcast eyes and a forehead titled toward a screen. Show them your face. To rest well, put the phone down.