I’m on vacation. It’s been great, really great. Before I left Colorado (where I live) for Minnesota (my state of origin) I wasn’t sure if I would know how to vacation. I have never been good at taking time off, but I have realized that I am better when I do. As it turns out, it isn’t just pastors in the 21st century that have a hard time taking care of themselves, there were some Biblical characters as well.
Moses reached a point where the word suicidal may best describe his frame of mind. Now Moses didn’t have a youth group or a large church on his shoulders, he had a nation. While it may seem that, that kind of a burden is much greater than what we face, it is also true that God gave Moses some unique opportunities to commune directly with Him that the rest of us don’t have…at least I don’t.
For our purposes it doesn’t matter why Moses reached the end of his rope (so to speak). What matters is this, he got there (Numbers 11:14-15). God gave Moses gifts in ministry and Moses used these gifts and as he did the weight on his shoulders became unbearable. It got so bad that Moses asked God to take his life. I have never been that far down the burnout road, but I have wanted to quit my job and even leave the ministry all together at times. A few times I have slipped into depression and acted in ways that had the potential to harm my marriage and my ministry.
What is the answer? Some times it is getting a good team around you. This was the answer for Moses (Numbers 11:16ff). Sometimes the answer is some sort of vacation or sabbatical. This was often the answer for Jesus. When he got tired and worn out he would often go off and be by himself with the Father, spend time in prayer, and fast. For some there needs to be accountability for rest. People who are successful are often driven and don’t need to be reminded to work, but they do need to be reminded to rest.
Whatever the answer is for you, you must find it and embrace it. Find people to hold you accountable to the answer. If you don’t, in the end you will do harm to yourself and your ministry.
John Byrne's Bio
John Byrne has been involved in youth ministry for more then 15 years. His ability to engage, challenge, and speak relevantly to his audience has led to speaking opportunities nationwide including camps, seminars, conferences, and training events. He has also written for Group Magazine, Youthworker Journal, and contributed to Youth Ministry Lemonade: turning “sour” experiences into leadership success. To see more of his writing check out the YM Theology blog.
John knew he wanted to be a youth pastor at the early age of 13. While attending Oak Hills Bible College he met the woman of his dreams and convinced her to marry him. After a two year honeymoon in the great state of Colorado he returned to his home state of Minnesota to finish his Biblical Studies degree from Northwestern Bible College.
John’s passion is living out the great mission (commission) in his life and helping others do the same. He does this through writing and speaking as well as missional living in his own neighborhood and community.
John is currently the Student Ministries Pastor at The Rock of Southwest, a church in Littleton, Colorado. He lives in Littleton with his wife Christa, daughter Catrina 11, and son Joash 4.