Rest takes discipline. That might sound strange to some, but it requires intentionality to maintain a consistent rhythm of spiritual practices to rest well. This is especially important in this season that has upended people’s typical routines, created added stress in the present and uncertainty about the future.
We’re accustomed to thinking of Bible reading and prayer as spiritual practices, but “rest” does not usually make the list. It should. Sabbath is a critical piece to this, but if we’re not resting in other ways, we can inadvertently misuse this sacred time and miss the divine intent of it. Rest is not optional if you want your leadership to be sustainable and strong for the long haul.
Small group leaders are entrusted with the sacred responsibility of being influencers in the spiritual lives of the people circled up with them. In order to be spiritually healthy and effective, your soul needs rest. These five practices will help you to wisely prioritize your relationships and make deposits into your personal life so that your service as a small group leader can be sustainable and strong:
- Recognize Sabbath-rest weekly – Ruthlessly guard this day each week. It means setting boundaries, saying ‘no’, and some degree of planning to keep potential interruptions at bay so that you can let yourself to be loved by God. This includes keeping a “Zoom Sabbath” as was mentioned in THIS ARTICLE by Chris Surratt and Brian Daniel. (Heb 4:9-11)
- Read and reflect on God’s Word daily – Slow down and allow biblical truth to simmer in your soul so that you can experience His restorative rest. Make your devotional life personal for yourself before making it practical for others. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Rely on the Lord and the help of others – Alongside “slowing down” is another essential ingredient to rest: Solitude (Mark 1:35). Commune with God and listen for the Holy Spirit’s gentle whispers (1 Kings 19:12). Rally friends around you who will faithfully uphold you in prayer and help lift the load of your leadership responsibilities. By not trying to do it all on your own, you’ll empower others in ministry.
- Remember God’s promises and power – Recalling truths like these will replenish your spirit and empower you in your small group leadership:
- God is building His Church – plant people in the fertile ground of those who are already growing together in Christ. (Mt 16:18)
- God makes things grow – be faithful with what the Lord has called you to do and entrust the results to Him. (1 Cor 3:7)
- God is always with you and will never leave you. (Deut 31:8)
- God’s Word is alive and active – trust His truth to transform hearts. (Heb 4:12)
- God wants all people to know Him and will meet them more than half-way (1 Tim 2:4; James 4:7-8). His amazing grace woos those humble enough to see their need for Him.
- Refresh yourself regularly – Find out what fills your tank and do it. What brings you joy and makes you feel alive? Is there variety to your routine beyond recuperating from being poured out for others? (Php 2:17)
True rest necessitates the nurture of our most important relationships beginning with Christ and flowing outward to our family, friends and others the Lord has put in our lives. Our most central relationships influence all the others, so a shallow relationship with God or a struggling marriage will affect how one leads others at work or in ministry. Sadly, by neglecting their innermost relationships, leaders end up forsaking their souls.
You will find rest for your soul when you come under Jesus’ direction and learn from Him (Matthew 11:28-30). True rest makes space for the Holy Spirit to do His refining and transformative work in your soul. As a result, you will be healthier, more joyful, and effective in your spiritual leadership. You owe it to God, yourself and loved ones, and the people whose spiritual growth you are influencing through your small group leadership.