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Break Your Day into Thirds

A creative way to avoid burnout in ministry

Always More to Do

“That’s always the hard part,” she states. “You have stuff flying at you all the time. You have hurt and broken people, and you have people reporting to you. Not having systems down and a plan in place makes it really hard to grasp everything God has called you to do, including the ability to say no—which I think is one of the hardest things for women in ministry.”

I couldn’t agree more—and it begs me to ask, is it the same for you? Do you have systems down and a plan in place so you can do everything God has called you to do? If not, what biblical guidance might you find in the life of Jesus?

Perhaps one of the most famous passages of Jesus breaking from work is found in Mark 6:30–32 (NRSV):

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in a boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Jesus’ directive was simple—get away and rest for a while. The word translated as “rest” here occurs 12 times in the New Testament. From Matthew to Revelation, followers of Christ are instructed to break with him and with the Spirit. While a specific template of breaking your day into thirds is not given, the exhortation to cease from activity is given. The message for us then, as women in ministry, is simple—if we are called to the work of Christ and called to groundbreaking work in the kingdom of God, then we are called to rest.

Make It a Habit

So, what are you doing each day to bring about rest and its titillating counterpart rejuvenation?

In her new book Keeping Place, Jen Pollock Michel writes, “There is joy in regular, rhythmic reprieve from the weary world of work for both the Jew and Gentile—even if work was initially given to God’s people as blessing, not curse.” Just as Sandy Hughes came to realize after years of ministry, there is deep value and joy found when we step away from rhythms of work and enter into rhythms of rest.

Whatever you have to do to make rest a priority in your schedule, do it. Maybe it starts with noticing—actually noticing what your schedule looks like on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly basis. In each of your areas of responsibility, intentionally strategize how to build periods of rest into your calendar. Perhaps it looks like breaking your day into three- or four-hour sections, and truly ceasing from activity, so you are not working from dawn to dusk, burning the candle at both ends. Maybe it means sticking to weekly days off, or breaking your week into equal parts sleep, work, and restful recreation.

August03, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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