Renew, Recharge, Reset, Go and Repeat

By Deacon Timothy Siburg, Director for Mission, Innovation, and Stewardship

There’s nothing earth-shattering about taking time to step back, renew, recharge, study, and repeat. There’s nothing new about the need for sabbath keeping and study; for continuing education and vacation. But alas, here we are, the opportune time has arrived.

The summer is upon us. It’s time to soak up the sabbath. Before you know it, the ministry program year and the school year will be back and starting up, ready or not. Whether or not it will feel like “normal,” “new normal,” or whatever it feels like now in our current contexts and environments. If you’re tired now, then take that as God’s invitation for you to take a step back. If you’re anxious now, then take that as God’s invitation to reach out for a listening ear, for some help, or to take some time away.

In saying these words, like I know all good ministry leaders do, I know how important they are, and how hard they can be to actually make a reality. I’m a dad of two little ones, who because of their age are yet unvaccinated. I get it, it’s hard to plan right now. It might seem like it’s hard to get away. Gas prices are high. Things are expensive. The list of excuses or concerns is valid and long. But it doesn’t change the fact that we must all renew, recharge, and reset.

We know the statistics- people are burned out. Ministry leaders are tired, and that goes for rostered leaders and lay leaders too. So let me invite you this summer, in the couple of months that lie ahead to take some time. To not just sit down with your calendar and look for time to use to spend away from your computer and community, but to do it. Whether getting through the reading pile you have put off for months, connecting with some family or friends you haven’t had the chance to be with for a couple of years, or just looking at a map and deciding, “no more putting it off, we’re going on vacation.”

This may sound like a privilege. If it does, I apologize. But I say all of this because it matters. For ministry leaders, these pieces are part of your call and compensation packages because it matters for the leader and the congregation. When leaders take their time away, they are showing they prioritize health and growth, and to their congregation it shows that they practice what they preach by modeling sabbath keeping. When leaders don’t take their time away, congregations get leaders who are run down, continuing to get exhausted, who aren’t at the top of their game, and might well make a mistake or find themselves in a conflict that could have been avoided with a bit of rest and perspective. It’s not fair to the congregation or the ministry leader. And when a leader takes time away, it also calls forth the congregation’s community to step up and show that they don’t always completely need to depend on their pastor, deacon, or PMA for every step of the way.

Getting a little healthy distance, reading other perspectives or attending that conference in-person or online, might lead to new insights, ideas, or things to try. It might help provide a question or a possible approach to some questions your congregation has been wrestling with, with some ideas of what to do and experiment with. Returning from study, travel, or rest and renewal, offers an invitation to reset. Which is so important in looking ahead to the fall. It’s a natural time to step back and discern priorities, and to remember that’s the shared work of all leaders of our faith communities- pastors, deacons, PMAs, faith formation and youth and family leaders, council members, committee members, musicians, and all who are a part of the church. This is shared work. No one bears all the work themselves. That’s the beauty about what it means to be the Body of Christ in the world today.

So please, take the time to renew, recharge, reset, and go. Enjoy what all the summer time has to offer, and let God’s love and creative work enfold you, uplift you, and sustain you.

If you are a ministry leader, doing this is for the sake of your own health and the well-being of those around you, and all those entrusted to your care. If you are an invested congregation member and disciple, make sure you are taking sabbath time in your own life, but also show that you care, by asking your leader(s) how they are doing at renewing, recharging, and resetting. If they are struggling, ask how the congregation might help them to take the time that they need. Because it’s not just for them, but for the health of the whole congregation. So that we all might lean into God’s call to love and serve the Lord, and to do so trusting in God’s promises, and embodying God’s abundant and abiding love.

If you need help starting the conversation in your congregation or with your leader, please reach out to me or to any one of your partners in ministry on synod staff. It’s a leadership issue, a stewardship issue, a missional issue, and a faith one too.

Renew, recharge, reset, and go. Jesus did this among his life and ministry, and God invites us to do so too.