By Jon Hansen, District Representative, Mountain Central
Rest, Replenish, Reset and Return
In rural ministry we rarely see results of our long-term work. So, in many situations we utilize our ministry time by working harder and longer. Instead of trusting the Lord to do the work, we rely on our own strength and gifts. We forget that unless the Lord does the work in the lives of the individuals we serve, we labor in vain.
My wife and I recently took a two-week rest and refreshment time from our role as District Representatives. During this time we got away from our normal lives. We reflected on what the Lord has been doing in our lives since starting this role 8 years ago. We spent time in the Word, talked about our marriage, family and ministry, and planned future ministry to those the Lord has entrusted us.
One thing we accomplished for our upcoming District Representative Meetings was to read a book called “Replenish” by Lance Witt. Daily we read, answered the questions at the end of each chapter, and then talked about practical application.
I found this book to be a great personal resource. I plan to share it with the Village Missionaries in our district so they can thrive in their relationship with the Lord, in their marriages, families and the ministries that the Lord has called them to serve. During our spring missionary visits I am priming the pump for a time at conference when I get to share with them.
This subject can be a useful tool to share with anyone who works and ministers with people. The following four R’s were my takeaway from our time away from ministry.
Rest from Ministry Time
Our culture doesn’t do rest very well. Our culture tells us to keep our lives busy by doing something. The busier we are the better our life will be… But Scripture tells us that Jesus kept a slower pace during his time here on earth. Even while ministering to the needs of His culture, He pulled away to spend time in prayer with His Father. He slept on a boat during a furious storm and spent most of His time with 12 men that He discipled and not the masses.
Our culture calls us to do increasingly more to be successful. We need more than ever to pull away from our normal lives for a short period of rest. Rest in the Lord and in His Word. Physically rest by getting a good night’s sleep or a nap if needed, rest from the white noise of technology and rest from anything that keeps us from truly resting in Him.
Replenish: Pull Back
“Replenishing” makes me think that I need to fill myself with something that needs to be refilled. This can be daily time in exercise, eating healthy or enjoying a hobby. It can also mean connecting with family and friends who encourage me, listening to good Christian preaching and programs on a podcast, or doing something that I enjoy with my wife and family.
All of us need a time to replenish the time and energy we extend when working with others.
One of the things I especially enjoy is fishing. It relaxes me and allows me to be outdoors and enjoy God’s creation – to pull back from my regular activity to refocus and reflect. Every believer needs to find a regular time to replenish their lives in this way.
Reset: Prepare for Ministry Time
I attended a seminar recently, and one session was about conflict resolution. Much of my job as a District Representative involves helping pastors, churches and individuals resolve conflict. One thing he shared to avoid burnout while helping others is to take time every seven years to look back on what we are doing and then retool ourselves to continue in the ministry.
My wife and I took this rest break so we could inspect our own lives. We are older now than when we began this role. We have traveled many miles in the past 8 years. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly that rural ministry and culture can bring.
We also spent time looking at what we are doing right now. Can we continue doing our ministry in the same way we have in the past 10-11 years? What should we change to keep going? What do we need to keep doing and what can we do without? This was a very freeing concept for me personally. I know it can help anyone who wants to stop and reset the course of their future.
Return to Ministry Time
Our time away was very beneficial, and I plan to do it again in the future. But it came time to return to our home and our ministry of caring for our district missionaries who serve in very rural, out of the way places. I have returned and am rested to carry on in the ministry. I have been replenished, my tank is full to pour out to our Village Missionaries, and my direction is reset in carrying out the ministry the Lord has called me to serve. I look forward with expectation to see how the Lord continues to work among the pastors and churches of the Mountain Central District.
I encourage you to look at these four areas in your own life. These areas can serve as a compass to follow in the wilderness and busyness of our current culture as you learn to Rest, Replenish, Reset and Return. Then you can bring glory to God and enjoy the ministry time the Lord has for you.