Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Key to Staying Alive in Ministry, Rest.

The in-law's came for dinner last night which was nice. Among our many conversations was one about rest and staying alive in ministry.

Those in full-time gospel ministry (outside of the ordinary workplace) suffer terribly from overwork on the whole. Somewhere a workaholism has seeped in where people feel that since there is an infinite amount of work to do then they must attempt to do lots of it, and somehow people get confused about the message of the gospel and tie their identity in Christ up in what they do. It has to end.

As Michael Ramsden points out being a Christian is about BEING, not DOING, THINKING or FEELING. It is a matter of ontology (ooo!).

We ask our Relay to keep a full account of the hours they work. This is never done to make them do enough work, but always to ensure they don't do too much. It is all to easy for people work themselves into the ground and burn-out. Somewhere along the line the culture has to change.

In UCCF I think that has begun to happen, though the temptations will always remain for each individual. Personally the discipline I learnt on Relay has set patterns I want keep to. I'm also very thankful for my then supervisor, Rachel, who insisted on high standards of rest.

A collegue saved my life at the start of this year by sending me Peter Brain's book on keeping fit for a lifetime in ministry (Going the Distance). Reading this in January helped me to re-assess my priorities at the start of a term that had the potential to burn me out. He reminded me that I am not my job. The doctrine of justification by faith means I need not work to earn my standing with God.

As Toplady wrote:
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;

Let us apply the secure achievement of the gospel to the way I work. Being "busy" is not commendable. Being "exhausted" is not a badge of honour. Hardship is part of ministry, it may not be easy but the least I can do is take care of the body I've been given.

Get this book from TheGoodBook.co.uk

By the grace of God I'm alive. I love my job. And I am not my job.
I am loved by God on the basis of God not my job. I am a child of God.


  1. Always a great word and good reminder.
    Blessings inChrist Jesus!

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  3. Well said - if I were down there, I'd be telling our Steve this on a fairly regular basis. As it is, I'll just have to think him positive vibes.

    There's often a slight mix up of urgency and prescience with haste. The former comes out of the importance of making the most of our life to see, and make a reality, the kingdom of God at any availible moment. The latter can come out of a desire to fill every moment with 'godly activity', which pushes aside any sense of living a fully and healthy life.

  4. "...being a Christian is about BEING, not DOING, THINKING or FEELING. It is a matter of ontology (ooo!)."

    ooo indeed ;) As a holistic, ontological, faith we might say that thinking feeling, and doing are fascets of a life lived in Jesus Christ. I just wanted to be sure there wasn't any sense of ranking or lower order, but the 'restored rightness' of all them things.

  5. Rest assured I am most concerned for Steve's wellbeing.

    Secondly, I think point is to say that a Christian is firstly a new creation out of which new thinking, doing and feeling flow. But thinking, doing and feeling do not a Christian make if there is no new creation...?

  6. I trust you to take care of my Steve ;)

    As for the more philosophical thingy. Well, I'd see it as niether being a cause or an effect - an expression or a cause. There's something about the way we approach the world and our selves that's too intertwined to be able to draw one out. Our being and our living are a single spectrum, as it were.