Ahh summer time. It comes so slowly to us and yet is gone so quickly. I don't know what it is about summer that makes it seem to go by so fast. Maybe it is the lack of set school schedules, maybe it is the constant cramming of activities and outdoor trips we want to take while the weather is nice, but one thing is for sure, summer should stick around longer! It provides many of us much needed rest. Summer gives us the perfect excuse to take vacation time or a long weekend and just go. Go away from our work, away from our homes, away from the norm and experience something fun. Experience something new, something exciting. Maybe for you that is the beach, or the mountains, or somewhere cool like Alaska! We need that time to rest, recuperate, and renew ourselves. But maybe you are like me, when, at the end of the summer, you feel more exhausted than the start. That time was supposed to be restful and rejuvenating and yet you feel just as tired and worn as before.
As Christians we are called to do good, serve others, go the extra mile and make a difference. But what happens when you get tired? What happens when you are tired of serving, tired of helping, tired of volunteering, or just plain old tired? There is a large need in the local church for workers, teachers, servants and volunteers to make it function and run smoothly. But there are times when the people who do the work grow tired. And that is normal! No one can serve and pour their energies and efforts out forever without getting tired. How do you get the rest you need without hurting the church, losing traction in your own life and come back feeling ready to go again?
#1. Be honest.
Open honesty is so essential to getting rest. If you need a break or are feeling the pressures of serving get to you, share that with someone you trust. Everyone understands the need for a break. Sharing that with other leaders invites them to help you and support you through that time. Most people feel embarrassed or are afraid to say something about needing a break - but open communication is always best.
#2. Make a plan
If you need to step back from serving, make a plan on how you will do it, for how long and what you want to accomplish during the break. This might be something you can do with the advice and input from other workers. It does not have to be incredibly detailed or specific, but a general plan is helpful. This lets current workers and volunteers know what to expect, it gives you guilt free rest knowing that whatever responsibilities you might have had, there is a plan to take care of them and it gives you a goal to work towards.
#3. Rest well
During the break, make sure to rest well. There are things we call "rest" that end up making us more exhausted in the end. So try to rest well. If you are needing a break from planning and organizing, don't volunteer to lead the family reunion. Making intentional decisions about what to do will go a long way to renewing yourself. Another key to resting well is filling empty time with God. Especially during the summer, there is empty time. Time that normally would have been filled with school, projects, early mornings and late nights now are suddenly open. The temptation is to fill those times with meaningless noise. For me that is TV and movies. I could spend a lot of time on shows and movies which really are just meaningless and add nothing to my need for spiritual rest. But if I fill that time with God, not only am I resting, but it is fueling, restoring and healing my soul. It might be writing, worship, prayer walks through nature, long spiritual talks with close friends, whatever it may be, it goes a long way towards resting well. Think about this summer. Have you been resting well?
#4. Remember your first love
Paul commands the church, at every opportunity, to do good to everyone, especially those in the family of God. There was a reason you volunteered. A reason you started serving. Maybe it was a love for children, a passion for the bible, a satisfaction at helping behind the scenes and seeing it play out, a desire to help others who might be in a similar situation you came out of, a love of music and praising God, a devotion to a notion bigger than yourself. Whatever it was that led you to serve in the first place, remember it. Get back to that place. All the frustrations that come with serving others and doing good; the time, the commitments, the difficult people, the stress, all of those things come and go. What can inspire, fuel and propel you through the frustrations is a clinging to your first love. What got you there in the first place.
#5. Don't give up
It is worth it to keep going. Churches, workers, children, ministries, the hurting and needy, the lonely all need people who are willing to do what is good and right. To wrap the towel around their waist, get out the basin and serve as Jesus served. As we get older and our roles change, the kind of service might change, but the call to serve never does.
As we come out of this summer and head into the fall and winter, I pray that you have rested well. If you are in need of rest I pray that some of this might encourage and help you through. And ultimately, I pray we never grow weary, we never give up on, we never stop serving everyone, especially those in the family of faith.