The kingdom is not just work

26. January 2020By Scotty Williams7 Minutes

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about Him, so that He got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And He told them many things in parables, saying: A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Matthew 13:1-8

As we work for God’s Kingdom, are we taking the time to get some rest?

We are more than sowers

While training for the ministry almost seventeen years ago, I found myself on the verge of a burnout. I had been working hard in my intern Church to spread the Word of the Kingdom in North Minneapolis. To the pathway people on Lydale Avenue, I spread the Word by visitations. To the rocky ground people at Fairview Park, I spread the Word by playing sports. To the thorny ground people near West Broadway, I spread the Word by flyers and tracts. And after preaching for the good ground people at Church, I had two night jobs to pay for seminary.

Truly, I was working hard and wearing myself thin, and as burnout loomed on the horizon the senior pastor told me this:

Though we are called to work for God, we are more than sowers in the field. We are also the field itself, and sometimes we are called to rest.    

Sometimes you’ve got to let the fields lie fallow.
-Joshua Burkhart

We are also the field

As a boy, I’d often visit my great-uncle’s farm in Texarkana, and every year he had a field that he left alone and would not touch. He would let it lie fallow for weeds and other wild plants to grow, and he would send his cows to graze in it and leave their droppings everywhere. In others words, he let the soil rest and regain the nutrients it had lost, and the same is true for those in Christ who spread or work for the Kingdom of God.

Though we are called to sow the Word we are also called to get some rest, and in so doing regain the things that works for God can take from you. We pastors know all too well the drain that ministry often brings, and without a break it can leave you with a burnout or even worse. The Church is filled with stories of people who were strong in faith, but lost their faith by wearing themselves out in service for the sake of others.  And there are also fellowships that were once filled with life and joy, but lost it all because they failed to see that even Churches need some rest.

Sometimes you just need to take 5 minutes for yourself!

We must take five

In the entertainment industry short breaks are called for with the phrase, “Take five”, and this year our Church Council wants to do the same at ASPC. Each month we will have a Sunday where there is no service or activity, and we take a break as a fellowship from our work in East Switzerland. On these Sabbath Sundays everyone is encouraged to sit back, get some rest, and be rejuvenated through non-Churchy things like sleeping in or hanging out with others. Of course, everyone is free to attend a service elsewhere, but we must remember that God is also glorified by fallow fields.

Just as we are sowers of the Kingdom we are also people in need of rest, and not just on the Sundays where our congregation doesn’t meet. From Monday to Sunday Christ our Director tells us, “Take five”, and I pray that we would heed His voice and regain the things that we have lost. May we daily have a moment (or moments) where we intentionally step away, and get back the peace, hope, and joy that strengthens us as we spread the Word.

A prayer for rest by Sarah Forgrave

Jesus, I am tired. My mind is frazzled, my hands are full, and my emotions are reeling with all the things I have to do. Help me to come to you in the middle of the overwhelm. Remind me of your ever-present help in my times of need. Show me how to rest in You. Reveal to me both the beauty in the work and in the rest. Calm my anxious thoughts and encourage my heart with Your nearness. Instruct me in your ways. Bring productivity and contentment out of the peace and comfort I find. Settle me in Your truth and in Your love. Amen.