By: Brian Croft
For the last 2 years, I have taken the entire month of July off to rest, reset, care for my own soul, enjoy my family, and unplug from all ministry and social media. I have just returned and feel ready to step back into the busyness of ministry and re-engage in the work to which God has called me. Here are a few ways I rested and cared for my own soul:
- Read some books.
- Enjoyed my family.
- Grieved a deep loss.
- Enjoyed friends.
- At times…nothing (guilt-free)
Here are a few highlights:
I read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis with my 17 year old son, Samuel. It was a sweet time of fellowship and discussion. This was the start of what I hope to do with each of my kids. Read a book with them the summer before and after their senior year as a way to help prepare them to be adults.
I read An Able and Faithful Ministry by James Garretson, a biography on pastor and theologian Samuel Miller. An excellent work and fed my soul. A masterful and wise thinker in how to train young men for pastoral ministry.
5 Years later, I went to Austin, TX and visited my pastoral mentor’s grave:
Jackson Boyett and his wife, Barbara were killed by drunk drivers. I was burying a dear friend and deacon in my church at the same hour of the Boyett’s funeral and was unable to go and grieve with everyone else. I have been going through my own grief for the last 5 years, but I felt like it was still important that I went to the grave and said goodbye.
It was hard, sad, but very meaningful. I got to visit with his leaders and long-time close friends. I was blessed to be hosted by my good friend who succeeded Jackson as pastor five years ago, Greg Van Court. I learned some things about Jackson’s deep love for me I didn’t know before which was quite moving and reminded me why he was so special to me. It was exactly what I needed to be able to celebrate his investment and impact on me and deal with the deep sadness I still feel that he is gone. I went to care for my soul and God met me in that place and in my grief in a sweet and powerful way.
Here’s my tribute to Jackson and what he taught me.
I spent time praying, journaling, seeking the Lord’s guidance on some issues in my heart, and spent the month reading the book of Romans as I will begin to preach Romans this week. God and his presence met me in a sweet way on numerous occasions. I find that truly renews my soul and gives me a fresh zeal to walk with Jesus. Truly walking with Jesus every day is the formula to a long and faithful ministry where we experience peace and joy in it.
I had a blast with my wife and kids. We stayed home all month, but just enjoyed being with each other. We went to the pool, parks, played games, sat together at church (imagine that!), watched movies, dates with my wife, and had good conversations while running to the kids jobs and sports. I felt like I was able to take in these quickly fleeting years that are the teen years.
Probably the most important piece to resting this month was letting go. Letting go of the needs of my people I care for and love. Letting go of the pastors who are hurting and seek care from me. Letting go of all the demands of ministry where I feel I am needed and entrusting them into the care of our faithful Creator.
I have learned letting go is the key to rest.
Without letting go, I can take a month off, but there would still be no rest. Maybe you can relate. Pastor, how well do you let go so you can rest?
Here’s our newest podcast on Pastoral Rest. Listen HERE