“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

It is spring, and there are signs of new life all around. We may see hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies flitting from place to place. They do not stay still for very long. It is almost as though they have a form of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). But that is their nature. It is what they do. God may not have commanded the birds and the insects to be still, but clearly, he is calling us, even commanding us, “to be still and know that I am God!”

We do not mean any disrespect to those suffering from ADD, but many people suffer from “spiritual ADD.” They go from church to church. Or they follow this celebrity preacher and then that one. In nature, roving from one place to another serves to cross-pollinate, but spiritual roving cannot fully nourish one’s soul.

Pastors are not exempt from this restlessness. The pressure to perform up to unrealistic expectations, whether from without or within, is causing a crisis. Many are leaving the ministry, citing burnout or dissatisfaction. It is hard to hear the voice of God during the chaos. There is no time to be still and listen. There’s always too much work for us to do.

We live at a time when stillness is not valued, but it is in silence that we can truly know and hear from God. Activity is not a substitute for stillness. But it does mask our inability to be still. After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. 1 Kings 19:12 (CEB)

There Is a Time and Place for Everything

A time to be quiet and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:7 (NLT)

The argument is not that we should always be still because that would make life impossible. But when we never take the time to be still, we will miss the opportunity to hear what God is saying to us. Having a “quiet time” can be difficult in our fast-paced world.

I am fond of saying that “ministry expands to fill all available time.” (It probably expands to more than all of the available time.) In our fast-paced world, we must prioritize the things that are important to us. There should be nothing more important than time alone with God. We will find relief in prayer, quiet contemplation and meditation, and simply waiting before God.

Martin Luther famously said, “Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” If we make it a habit not to spend time alone with God, we will soon have nothing to impart to others.

Our Shepherd Knows Best

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Psalm 23:1–3 (NLT)

The relationship between a shepherd and his sheep is worth contemplating. In this perhaps most familiar of the Psalms, we have a pattern for a successful life and ministry. It is not complicated, but it is difficult. It goes against what we think we know is best. When we follow the direction of the shepherd, we will have everything we need. The Shepherd provides much-needed rest, refreshing water, strength, and guidance. All of this will bring honor to his name.

The call to rest in God is something that he has been pleading with his people for a long time. In Isaiah 30, we see a people who turn everywhere except to God for help. God plainly states that trusting in the world will not bring the protection that the people desire.

God says: “Because you despise what I tell you and trust instead in oppression and lies, calamity will come upon you suddenly— like a bulging wall that bursts and falls. In an instant it will collapse and come crashing down.” Isaiah 30:12–13 (NLT)

God Is Pleading with Us

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)

God’s people had tried everything to find the peace and security they hungered to know. They tried everything except returning to God. I have asked the question, why is “burnout” so prevalent among those in ministry today? They go to seminars and retreats searching for answers to the pressures and problems of ministry.

The solution to burnout is right in front of us: But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. Isaiah 40:31 (MSG).

Jesus said: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28–30 (MSG)

We must acknowledge that the ways of man are not working. Without a doubt, vocational ministry is difficult, but Jesus never asked us to bear the load alone. Do whatever it takes to learn how to “be still and know that He is God.”

Steve Ekeroth

Photo: Steve Ekeroth

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