I remember when I was about 13 years old and it was announced at church that the reverend would be away for a month for his annual leave. I remember thinking how odd that was, “You mean pastors get leave? Who will run the church when his gone?” This memory reveals what I think is the basic Christian view of people in full-time ministry. They’ve chosen to serve God, that doesn’t really seem like such a big job, except on Sundays at least so why should they really have time off?
This is where I found Christopher Ash’s book a great help. As a man in full-time ministry and who has experienced great hardship from failure to take good rest, Some of what he speaks about I know from experience – that ministry can be very tiring, and some I realized I needed so that I can think about rest in a more godly way. The greatest question about rest for the person in Christian ministry (and that should be all Christians, Eph. 4:16), is ‘Does rest mean that I am not being zealous for the LORD? Does it mean that I am just a softie who isn’t willing to be spent for the LORD?‘
Christopher Ash aims to lay out patterns of thought that will help us be zealous for the LORD but with full realization that we are not God and therefore need rest. We are finite beings, made of dust that are here for a season and will eventually waste away (in a physical sense). Not resting means we have too high a view of ourselves and that is in fact very ungodly! If we think that we must be there for ministry to continue, we are seeing ourselves as God and that is wrong! The only person necessary for ministry to happen is God. He is the One who convicts hearts, who saves and who builds people up so that they are transformed into the image of His Son. Graciously, He includes us in this work but we are not a necessary component in this work.
What this means is that we should think carefully about our view of spending ourselves for the LORD. Firstly, we need to keep in mind that it is God who works to save and transform people. Secondly we should pray that He does this work for His glory. Thirdly, should pray that He would use us for this work. Fourthly, we should remember that we can take a break from this work because we are not God.
But this book is not only for people in full-time ministry. It is a very helpful book for the ‘ordinary’ church member who is being served by these ministers. It is crucial because it will help them to think rightly about ministry and rest for ministers. This is because it is often the ‘ordinary’ church member who will be part of the congregation who provide the necessary support for ministers to be able to take good rest while ministry continues on.
I would highly recommend reading this book to better understand the importance of rest in ministry and the principles that should help us think about it in a godly manner for ourselves and others.