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Our Saviour Lutheran 56 Cleveland Dr. Croton on Hudson, NY 10520 

The Life of a Disciple Part 6

This may sound strange, but I had to study how to rest for a solid two years before finally learning how to rest and care for myself. I would read books on Sabbath, time management, and take workshops on needing to take a break. Even with all the study, there was something that just didn’t click. I knew I was a workaholic and busyness was my second nature.

I am a convert though to rest and self care, so much so that I am being asked advice by my fellow pastors on how to take a sabbath. So what changed? Two distinct mentalities changed which lead to bodily change.

The first mentality was I had to give myself permission to rest. This did not come easily and came in the form of a question from a therapist. He asked me, “do you ever get tired from carrying the church on your shoulders?” It seemed a silly question at first and denial was my initial response, but after the grumbles I realized why he asked that question. It was a mentality that things couldn’t function without my involvement, which is the ego talking. This lead to not coming to a fellowship activity at church, one time. You know what happened? It was just fine and everyone had fun. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t have been welcome, it was my presence wasn’t needed for things to function. 

This is where we sometimes get caught up in things. Our ego nudges at us so much that we convince ourselves that unless I am there, things will not run. This happens on the job, in our personal lives, and in our extra activities. Giving ourselves permission to rest is key to a healthy life.

The second came from an author named Eugene Peterson. He is best known for his Bible translation titled “The Message,” but he wrote an entire series of books on pastoral leadership. Within each book, he eventually will point out that “busyness is a sin.”

His point wasn’t to give guilt when life gets a bit out of control, but rather to point out that we tend to have an obsession with busyness, so much so that it often defines us as a person. “How are you doing today? Oh, I am so busy.” How often have we said that?

We get caught up in the idea that busy is a good thing, but it actually shows a life out of balance. I can become busy at times (talk to me during Holy Week and I will show you), but the goal isn’t to stay busy. It is knowing when to put down work and allowing rest and play. It is pretty counter cultural when you think about it.

When I reflected on this, I began with a tool where I divided my week into three sections per day- Morning, Afternoon, and Evening. As a pastor, I will often work mornings and evenings with meetings and whatnot. What I began doing is placing a giant X in the sections where I knew I was doing something. For example, if office hours were on Monday mornings, the morning would get the X. If I had an evening meeting Tuesday, the evening section would be Xed out. The idea was to leave one section open per day or if that were not possible to ensure an entire day was left open. Where there wasn’t an X became my time for rest, renewal, or housework. 

I will admit some council presidents scoffed a bit, but when explained what I was doing, it began to make sense. I was a better pastor when I allowed rest. The same is for anyone. Rest is needed to be the best you. 
Pastor Justin Johnson
Our Saviour Croton on Hudson

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Our Saviour Lutheran Church · 56 Cleveland Dr · Croton on Hudson, NY 10520-2751 · USA

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