Thriving, Surviving, or Barely Alive?


In most of my years as a student pastor, I hit a wall by the end of summer. Camps, mission trips, VBS, summer programs, managing interns – it felt like I was running one sprint after another, and I just needed a break. And the older I got, the more it took a toll on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Usually, I would just try to get away for a couple weeks before the craziness of fall and a new ministry year started. But I realized at some point that needing more vacation time wasn’t my problem: I had developed a habit of being exhausted.

Bill Hybels says this: “The best gift you can give the people you lead is a healthy, energized, fully surrendered and focused self.”

You can’t do that when you’re just surviving or barely alive.

In order to give my best energy to the people I serve, I need to learn how to rest so I can thrive.Click To Tweet

Some of us may have come up in places where taking time to rest was a sign of laziness. But what if it’s actually the other way around? Eugene Peterson makes this pretty bold claim: “I am busy because I am lazy…By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone.”

In other words, it takes intentionality and hard work to rest and to thrive.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero has been an incredible resource for me to learn to live healthy rhythms of prayer, rest, relationships, and work. Part of that rhythm is practicing Sabbath, a day when you take time to Stop, Rest, Contemplate, and Delight. And yes, this even applies to really driven, high-energy student pastors who can’t wait for the next Spikeball tournament.

Trust me, I don’t always get it right. You can ask my wife how easily I can fall into being busy and exhausted. But I know that making the effort to rest is worth it so I can stay in the game longer and healthier.

If you’re a student pastor, what would it look like for you to thrive personally and in ministry this next school year?

In what areas do you need to do the hard work of creating space so that you can stop, rest, contemplate, and delight?

If you’re supervising a student pastor, how can you encourage him or her to bring the best version of themselves to the students, families, and leaders they lead?


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