Yesterday at Sojourn Gathered we began our summer sermon series, on Rest. This subject has been dear to my heart since six months after launching Sojourn, when a pastor-friend noticed my break-neck pace and 7-day work week, and asked “So how long can you keep this up?”
The tribe I have come to align myself with, the tribe I both love and hate, is of the Reformed Baptist variety. This tribe is known for theological accuracy (among other things) and a passion for biblical faithfulness. These are good traits to be known for. My tribe is filled with confession writers, institution founders, and church planters. In many regards this tribe is filled with heroes of the Christian faith. But:
- We are often the ones who are overweight
- Who have superficial relationships with our wives and don’t know our children
- Who cough up blood, who have ulcers in our 30s, and who are depressed, angry, worn out, and looking for another career.
These are all dead ends, yet we’re racing hard to get there.
What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. – Ecclesiastes 2:22-23
It’s Not Just Pastors. It’s You
- Sixth graders who wake up at 5:00 a.m. to get to swim practice. Then to school all day, then piano lessons, followed by homework until 9:00 p.m.
- College students who have a main-line IV pumping Red Bull into their blood stream. They take honors classes and volunteer at soup kitchens to build their resumé. They work out twice a day and attend every social event to avoid the dreaded label “single.” They need to figure out what they’re doing with their lives and develop their five year plan.
- Young couples with dual incomes and no kids (the DINKS!) who are rising stars at work, pulling 50-60 hours a week. Since they have no children, they feel it’s their duty to lead a small group, serve in children’s ministry on Sundays, volunteer with the Church Finance Committee, and participate in Saturday neighborhood cleanups.
- New mothers who are bitter with their sudden life change. Just a few months ago they were up to date on the latest women’s Bible study curriculum, spending an hour every morning pouring over the scriptures and drinking single-origin espresso. Now they have a crying baby and quiet times on the toilet.
- 60 year-old businessmen who can’t keep up with the next generation. They see younger men willing to work twice as long for half as much, threatening their livelihoods and identities. They work every waking hour, despite a failing body, and even though the doctor says they need to slow down or face a heart attack.
All Dead Ends
And these are not exceptional case studies but rather the common experiences of the men and women in our churches, from the pastors to the preschoolers. Louder than any sermon, our lives are shouting to the world that we don’t trust God, we don’t know how to stop working, and we don’t know how to enjoy life
Every year, more and more statistics are being released that show our children are busier than ever, our people are unhappier than ever, our churches are plateauing or dying faster than ever, and our pastors are quitting more than ever.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Yet instead of finding rest, most of us have found long to do lists, lots of pressure, and more stress than we know how to handle. Let’s walk together this summer as we learn how to avoid dead ends and enter into God’s rest.
What are some of your own dead ends on the journey to Rest?