It’s amazing to read about the life of the Apostle Paul, and how he strove to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means [he] might save some.” Here was a Jew of Jews, Pharisee of Pharisees, able to reach not only his own people but go into Gentile strongholds and preach in a way that made the “Unknown God” the Known. He spoke multiple languages, traveled thousands of miles, and suffered immeasurable afflictions all for the cause of Christ.
And here we were hiding behind a peephole.
How could we receive that “well done” at the end of our service when we sometimes were just worn out by people? It was one thing for me, the introvert, to want to lock myself in the bedroom, but it was another for my extroverted evangelist of a husband to need to escape to his carpentry shop.
Did Paul ever get tired? Did Jesus?
The simple answer is yes, and I’m going to sit on that for a minute because we all need to know it is that simple. Serving others takes energy, and nothing makes you want to go home more than a loss of that energy. The lie is that home is stress-free and without struggle. When we’re in the midst of service overload, Satan just wants you to think it is. Thankfully, there is an answer to this added stress of being all things to all people—take a break.
We all need space to rejuvenate and recharge.
What this looks like varies from person to person, spouse to spouse, and teammate to teammate. Introverts recharge by alone time. Extroverts may also want alone time, but also may be able to recharge by some fun, family time. A diverting activity, like my husband’s carpentry, was the best way for him to destress and find renewed energy for further service. Exercise, hikes with friends, or a camping trip may work for others.
It’s important to talk together about your need for a break and understand what that looks like for each person. If a wife needs a day by herself, the husband may find a colleague to hang out with or be able to take the kids to the beach for the day. Or, after you’ve blessed your spouse with a fun activity together, they give you some quiet time to read or relax afterward. It’s a give-and-take on the field, especially when there are no other team members to help balance the load.
Be willing to rest.
Even in his fully-packed three years of ministry, Jesus took time to be alone and get away from the crowd. Paul was on the road for decades, so there were times of rest between travels, not to mention long periods in prison or dealing with illness. I don’t wish Paul’s hardships on you, but I do encourage you to see the full picture in Scripture and take heart. Also, look at the lives of those who have gone before us in service, focusing on how they pulled back at certain times to gain strength and renewed focus.
When we rest, we are giving testimony to the ultimate rest we will receive from God because of our faith in the work that Christ has already done on our behalf. We don’t have to “work” ourselves to death in ministry because our “job” is to simply point others to Jesus “as we go.” That leads to a balanced view of service and leads us to be at home wherever he leads, as we rest in him.
Grace and Peace
To find out more about the limitations of being all things to all people, check out my latest book Not in Kansas Anymore: Finding Home in Cross-Cultural Service. It’s available in e-book and paperback formats.