Pastor J.D. talks about this rising issue, learning how to find Sabbath rest, and four ways of rest we need every day.

A glimpse inside this episode:

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or strife in their churches.
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
  • 80% wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • The majority of pastor’s wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry. 


Rest in Christ: In Christ, you can rest even while you’re working. Without him, you’ll work even while you’re resting. A big key to not being burned out is learning to find Sabbath rest, and a big part of Sabbath rest is learning to find yourself in Christ.

Beyond that, we have a failure to take an actual Sabbath: 

  • It is inconvenient! 
  • Psalm 127

Four kinds of rest you need every day:

    • Physical
      • A recent study found that a 30-minute nap three times a week cuts your heart attack risk by 40%. Other studies have shown that people who nap are actually more productive.
      • A recent CNN study showed that those who work 11-hour days are 250% more likely to become depressed than those who limit their work 8-hour days. The reason is that when you are under work stress your body releases a certain amount of chemicals and hormones to deal with it—which is fine in normal rhythms but when you work too much it literally poisons your body, throwing off your levels and leading you more anxiety and depression. 
  • Especially for those in ministry: Archibald Hart: 30 minutes up front releases same amount of chemicals as 8 hours of labor


    • Those who study these things say that the vast majority of us need to be getting more sleep, not less. They say, “Only 1–3 % of the population is sleeping too much.” 
    • Historical context: Up until 1879, the average American used to sleep 11 hours a night.  What changed in 1879? Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. Which is great, but it was then we started to sleep less. PHONE and LIGHT
    • Our lack of sleep contributes to all kinds of health problems—and even makes us less efficient. I was watching this TED talk that explained that your brain doesn’t have blood vessels in it, which is how most of your cells remove waste. There is an enzyme the brain produces that carries away waste, and that enzyme is only produced in sleep. Which is why when you haven’t slept your minds feels cluttered and clunky. 
  • Mental
    • Winston Churchill painted. Best way to rest is get really tired doing something you don’t typically do.
    • “We need more ‘active’ rest – the kind that can make us more alert and effective, reduce our stress levels, and give us a better chance of a healthier and longer life.
  • Social
    • One night a week you spend with people you like
    • Our decision to move into community
  • Spiritual
    • Prayer time

Working on vs. Working in the Church

  • We do both. The temptation is to only do the former, but the real rewards of the body of Christ come from the latter. 
  • I once knew a prominent megachurch pastor who often spoke of how he only worked “on” the church not “in” any longer—i.e. little personal evangelism, no personal discipleship, small groups, etc. His greatest contribution was working on the structures and big picture. 
  • Being in full-time ministry means that the balance of our lives shifts to “working on,” but we should maintain a level of “working in.”