Rest and Avocation

Title: Rest and Avocation
Category: Emotional Issues
Subject: Rest; Avocation
Rest and Avocation

This information was not authored by the Editor, rather the Editor serves as a contact person. This information was provided by the office of Keith Hamilton with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Another disturbing story concerning Ministers was recently released on the news wire. Two Pastors had been charged in bank robberies. The rendition of the stories in this article has been altered; the facts have not been exaggerated. "A Baptist pastor has been arrested on charges of robbing a bank in a Bible Belt town. The middle-aged pastor of a Baptist Church is believed to have driven the getaway car, a relatively new SUV registered to his church. It's not the first pastor I've arrested, but it's the first pastor I've arrested for bank robbery, the County Sheriff told the reporter."

The second story recounts that another man identified by the paper as a former local town Minister turned himself in to authorities. This Minister is believed to have entered a bank and fired one shot into the ceiling before leaving with an undisclosed amount of money. The newspaper quoted members of his church as being astonished by their Pastor's arrest and worried that the episode would hurt the congregation's reputation.

Witnesses to these accounts wonder what led these Ministers to produce such public and punishable crimes. The story lines in these news clips did not elaborate on the Ministers' particular struggles in their respective churches, or their family problems, or their theology, or their related psychological stressors. What is communicated between the news lines of these stories highlights the distress in these men's lives. To clarify the obvious, the two situations illustrated above seem to indicate that these men had lost their heart for Ministry. Perhaps doing something as blatant as robbing the bank was the only way they thought they could "get out of the ministry." Neither of them seemed to have the wherewithal to maturely admit the obvious. If only they had been able to take a break, to cease and desist, rest, recoup, and recreate. If only they could have had a good hobby.

God offers us great examples of this unclaimed treasure.

* On the seventh day, having finished his task, God rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation (Genesis 2:2-3).

God inspired Scripture writers to teach people who inhabit this world to be godlike.
* Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the Lord throughout your settlements (Le 23:3).
* Thus says the Lord: For the sake of your lives, take care that you do not bear a burden on the sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem (Jer 17:21).
* And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the sabbath or do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors (Jer 17:22).

By his example, Jesus demonstrated the need for rest. He attempted to teach his disciples about the necessity for periods of disengagement from the demands. Then Jesus said, "Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest" (Mark 6:31) There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat.

Jesus maintained harmony in his spirit. He was divinely guided to establish some adequate boundaries between himself and the hoards of people who became his followers. Though he faithfully ministered to the needs of the multitudes, he was capable of having a spiritual steadfastness. That ability seemed to originate from his perspective of rest, and his ability to receive ministry (Luke 7:38). He also demanded that his disciples incorporate being recipients of ministry into their own lives (John 13:8).

God established "ritual times" in people's lives when rest is indicated. Ecclesiates reminds readers that there is a time for all things. Avocations give people those periods in life when they can refill their spiritual cups and refuel their lives with passion for those things to which God calls them.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Gal 6:9). So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God's rest also cease from their labors as God did from his (Heb 4:9-10). This is time well spent!

Will Bacon

Georgia Healthcare System

Helpful Material To Read On This Subject:
* Clergy Renewal: The Alban Guide to Sabbatical Planning , by A. Richard Bullock and Richard J. Bruesehoff.
* Clergy Self-Care: Finding a Balance for Effective Ministry , by Roy M. Oswald.
* Be Still: Designing and Leading Contemplative Retreats , by Jane E. Vennard.
* Keeping your Heart for Ministry, by Michael D. Miller/ LifeWay Press
* Spiritual Wholeness for Clergy: A New Psychology of Intimacy with God, Self, and Others , by Donald R. Hands and Wayne L. Fehr.

Recalling our Own Stories: Spiritual Renewal for Religious Caregivers The Jossey-Bass Religion-in-Practice Series by Edward P. Wimberly (May 1997)