Take A Nap With Jesus

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Originally published February 2003,

Tim Baker, student ministries pastor at Hope Fellowship in Longview, Texas, and author,  wrote a great article about adrenaline and youth ministry.  The following is just a clip of the article but I think for those of us who are running on adrenaline this little bit is all we need to identify.

“I realized that my sickness revolves around two awful words--’I’ and ‘Another.’  It’s like this.  Fifty kids will never be enough.  I need to reach just one more...I need to catch another kid.  My self-focus and “another-ness” is fueled by adrenaline and stress.  The more I feel I’m missing those nebulous, undefinable goals, the more I get stressed out.  The more stress, the more adrenaline.  The more adrenaline, the more sickness--and the cycle continues.  In my quest to understand what was going on in me, I reached the medical problems adrenaline and stress were creating.”

Whew!  Doesn’t that sound like daily life of those in full-time youth work?  Somehow the thinking that whatever number of kids we’ve got is never enough and the belief that you have got to catch just one more is “spiritual.”  Somehow we think we are so holy because we are so consumed with the call.  This is a very wrong perception.  We are caught up in “I” and “Another” and are no where near the position God would like us to be in.  We are no where near the man or woman of God that we think we are.

We are living the fast life.  Fast life--those words are usually held for those who work on Wall Street or who are on the “fast track to the top.”  But the fast life is not only a problem for those who are money-minded.  It strikes those who are ministry-minded too. 

Add to that, we tend to be technologically “geeky.”  We have the best PDAs and cell phones.  How many youth ministry network meetings have you been to that youth workers have testified to some new-fangled PDA or whatever that helps them get organized and better manage their time?  We’ve upgraded our computers to DSL so we can work faster on the internet.  We are getting more done in less time because of all this technology.  So because of that we should be able to have more times of rest.  But instead we are still working 60-hour work weeks and never taking that time to rest which all these new-fangled items are supposed to be giving us.  Something is very wrong here.

Fast living used to mean a life of sin.  But these days it means just living fast and ministers are very guilty of it.  And this type of fast living has larger consequences on our lives.  That thought should scare us. 

We need to rest.  We need to rest on a regular basis.  This is holy. 

However in order to rest, you have to first admit that the world can and will go on without you.  How much of our fast living is because we have to catch just one more--and that God is not big enough to do the catching without us?  Poppycock!  The truth is God doesn’t need us to catch those He chases but he does like to use us.  Especially when we are healthy. 

You also need to be selfish.  Isn’t that a contradictory statement--someone in the ministry being commanded to be selfish?   So what.  Do it.  Your family needs you to be selfish.  Your body needs you to be selfish.  Your selfish times will give you the endurance to really be the minister you want to be.  I do remember reading about a couple of times where Jesus left the crowds and the needs of the crowds to go and rest.  Be like Jesus. 

So how do you become selfish and rest?  The obvious are to say “no” to stuff, eat a balanced meal, and take a good inventory of your schedule now.   But here are some wizened recommendations and attainable recommendations that are not so obvious and are practical. 

Idea #1 - Find a community organization (not necessarily Christian and recommended to not be) with like-minded people in it.  You probably won't know if they are like-minded until you meet them though.  I was given this advice often before I crashed and burned and thought it was corny.  Then I followed it and it saved my "life."  I was rejuvenated by having adult conversations (especially those that didn't center on church stuff), adult relationships (outside of church!), opportunities to share and minister to non-Christian adults (that rejuvenates your call to be a witness as a Christian and not because you are paid) and found the work rewarding.  Community groups are often open to ministers volunteering because they want those type of people but find pastors "too busy" to help the community unless it helps their own church.  I have chosen the Boys & Girls Club.  Once a month you can find me in a smoke-filled bingo hall selling bingo games to old ladies who I pray for as they come down the line.  I also have made friends and influenced many of the "movers and shakers" in our community who serve on the board with me.   These are just extra benefits I receive for keeping my sanity.  These extra benefits don’t even include the extra extra benefits I receive when free football or basketball tickets are dropped to me because the Boys & Girls Club gets them all the time.  Now I have a free family adventure to do in my times of rest.  

Your first thought may be, “not another meeting!”  But this is not at all like all your other meetings.    I cannot possibly describe to you how much sanity this provides me. 

Idea #2 - Read.  And not a youth ministry book.  Find a good biography (hello library!) or autobiography.  Easy to read through because of the story and challenging to you at the same time.  Read a Grisham novel.  Truly enjoyable time to spend.  Your public library is full of such luxury books that you don’t need to spend your money on to fill your personal library.

Idea #3 - Take regular naps.  You are no longer 6-years old and are being forced to take afternoon naps.  You are an adult running on empty with an adult body that is not as young as it used to be.  It is okay to take naps.  It doesn’t make you geriatric.  It sustains your body.  Take a nap with Jesus.  Bring your prayer list to bed, start praying through it and fall asleep.  So what if you don’t get through it all.   God knows your needs and He knows you are resting your body and your soul so you can continue to be His hands in those prayers you are sending up.  Doesn’t that very thought bring rest to your soul?