Contemplating rest for leaders from Psalm 23
David does not hide from the tensions he faces. He names them. He names them all. I'm incredibly grateful for his honesty.
His internal tensions are named: Behind the comfort of the Shepherd's rod and staff is the recognition of David's own sin and idolatry.
His external tensions are named: The valley of the shadow of death, the reality of evil and the presence of his enemies. Each insidious element bores into David’s personal, pastoral, public, and political leadership bringing tension, exhaustion, and soul-sapping fatigue.
I am not King David. But the reality of my own sin exposes the tensions at the heart of my own leadership.
The presence of the powers and principalities, and reality of opposition, continues to create a tension on our leadership. I'm beginning to sense that Christian leadership in this season not only involves leading personally and pastorally but now, at the same time, publicly and politically. This brings fresh tensions within leadership.
Added to these tensions is the strain and intensity of leading our church families in a pandemic. The tension between those who want to go “back to normal” and those who want to surf “the new normal” is real.
The online tension between greater participation and greater professionalism is real. The tension between shepherding our own family and church families facing financial and pastoral challenges is real.
The exhaustion, fatigue and bone-tired weariness is real
I'm grateful that into his own moment of pressure, intensity and tension; into his own moment of exhaustion and fatigue, David encounters the heart-replenishing and soul-renewing Shepherd. The Shepherd who is revealed to us most fully in the person and work of Jesus.
Jesus, who can leads me beside still waters because he has stilled the storm.
Jesus, who can restore my soul because he is both my creator and my re-creator.
Jesus, who can be with me in the valley of the shadow of death, because he has traversed the valley.
Our Shepherd. Our Rest
I want you to see something significant from the Psalm:
The first thing our Shepherd does is make us lie down in green pastures. He makes us stop from our activity. He makes us cease from our busyness.
Everything else the Shepherd does for us, and with us, involves our activity; but the first (and arguably the most important) thing the Shepherd does in the Psalm involves our resting from our activity.
He invites us into his comfort and anointing, he welcomes us into his security and safety, he invites us into his restoration through rest. He invites us into his work, his leadership, his activity, by resting from our work, leadership and activity.
He wants to renew our leadership by making us lie down. He wants to pour his life into our leadership. He wants us to be renewed through rest.
He can make me lie down in two ways; by the power of the invitation to rest throughout Scripture, or by lovingly giving me over to my idols so that rest is the ultimate consequence.
The pattern of biblical rest
Biblical rest is resting in the God who works, by intentionally resting from our own work.
Biblical rest is soaking in God's sovereignty and goodness.
Biblical rest is a continual pattern of resting that prophetically speaks to my idols, saying 'God's Word works, God is sovereign in his work and I am not.'
Biblical rest has been secularised over the centuries and now is mistaken for relaxation and recreation. Biblical rest results in my relaxation and recreation, but my focus is resting in his goodness and greatness, so that he be glorified.
In this unique moment our Shepherd is inviting us to name every tension, to feel them building up, and at the same time to rest with him in the tension.
To rest consistently and to rest well.
To rest in him and to rest with him in the tension.
You may be exhausted. Bone-weary tired from the tension of ministering in this moment. Ahead of you stretches the tension of replanting your church in a post-COVID world. We are deeply aware of the need to rest in the tension.
If you are a pastoral leader needing rest, please be in touch, a number of the movement’s campsites are wanting to bless you.
If you a pastoral leader needing practical assistance and support to rest and replenish please get in touch with PastorLINK Enabler Kerry Rickard: firstname.lastname@example.org 022 439 2507