SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Last week during the annual Freed Hardeman Lectureship the Bible Department unveiled a new publication called, “Kingdom.” Our dear friend, Dr. Ralph Gilmore, is editing the publication. Kingdom is an academic journal published by the School of Biblical Studies and Freed Hardeman University. The premier issue contains an introduction written by Dr. Billy Smith as well as articles written by Dr. Gilmore, Dr. Mark Blackwelder, and Matt Cook.
There is also an article titled, “The Righteousness of God,” written by yours truly. I am honored that Ralph asked me to write this article for the first edition. Billy Smith stated in his introduction, “It has long been our desire to provide our gracious and growing brotherhood an online journal that will challenge and encourage a deeper study of God’s inspired Word.”
If you are interested in learning more about the journal and if you would like to read the first edition you can find it at http://www.fhu.edu/special/kingdom/. Now back to the blog.
Laura and I recently had dinner with some very dear friends. It was a great evening of food, fellowship, and fun. When it was time to offer thanks for the meal we were standing holding hands and the host said, “I’ll say the prayer and we’ll just give Jeff the night off!”
We all got a good laugh out of that line. This is the same friend who said, “It takes more to be a Dad than a pair of tennis shoes and a baseball cap.” He is also famous for saying that when he was growing up he was, “beat by a professional!” His mother was a schoolteacher! He has given us many wonderful lessons in his “frontier gibberish.”
The point of this post is how thankful I am for the reminder of the importance of taking some time off, time to rest. Our Maker rested from all of His labors after the creation (Genesis 2:2). A wise man once said that it is vanity if we never allow our minds to rest (Ecclesiastes 2:23).
Jesus encouraged His followers to rest, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, 29) The Eternal Home that He has prepared for us is described as a place of rest (Hebrews 4:1, 9).
As a young preacher I had the privilege of being close to an older preacher who mentored me for about ten years. During those years my life was richly blessed through a close association with brother Wendell Winkler. One of the many lessons he shared with us was the need for preachers to take time for their families and for themselves. He said that every day the preacher should divide his waking hours in three parts, morning, afternoon, and evening. His argument was that we should only work in two parts of any given day and that we should dedicate the third part of that day to family and rest.
Through the years I have heard preachers and watched preachers who are so busy in their work that they never take time for their families or for their own spiritual renewal. I remember one preacher telling me, “You can’t build a great church in the day time, and therefore you have to work all day, then late into the night.” That sounds good and noble, however I would argue that neither could you build a strong family or a strong spiritual life if you work all the time with no time for rest or renewal.
SO LISTEN UP PREACHERS. Take some time to rest, relax, and renew. If you are young with no children spend some time each week with your wife to build your relationship. If you have small children make some time every day for them. If your children are older be sure you don’t neglect them. Attend their school activities, their ball games, and other events.
Take time for family trips and vacations. Take some time for yourself to rest your mind and your body. Allow God to renew your spirit. Do something special with your family, spend some time with friends, golf, fish, hunt, read, REST! Please don’t misunderstand. I am not advocating laziness. There are enough lazy preachers in the church. But I have seen too many preachers burn themselves out working and lose their families because of their “commitment.”
I fear that I did not teach my children very well about this topic through my words or my life. I am sorry for that. I also fear that I haven’t taught younger preachers this very well. After more than thirty years of full time work I now see the great value is following the Lord’s instructions.
I believe that good elders will see the value in allowing their preachers to take time for their families as well as for themselves. Those of us who are trying to help build stronger families should model what we are preaching! So, my brothers, like my wise friend said, “take some time off.”
While I write these words primarily to preachers I believe they should apply to all Christians. A lot of families have suffered catastrophe because of a workaholic who refuses to take time for rest and relaxation. Remember, if our Perfect Father in Heaven saw the value of rest surely we should do the same.
Dear Father in Heaven, thank You for telling us and showing us how we should live. Thank you for placing a premium on rest. Help us dear God to follow the example you have set for us. Help us to learn to relax, rest, and renew. Help us Lord to set the right example for our children and for others around us. In the Name of our Savior we pray, Amen.