As young pastors in bivocational ministry, we’ve had to learn many things on the fly.
From working with volunteers and engaging with older staff to developing curriculum and teaching the Gospel to diverse audiences.
But perhaps the hardest element we’ve had to adjust to is boundary setting.
‘Cause truth is: with limited time and relational opportunities, providing pastoral care while faithfully holding down multiple day jobs can be challenging.
Knowing when to sacrifice, when to engage, when to say ‘yes‘, when to say ‘no‘ …
…I mean, let’s face it: it can be doggone hard discerning the right move at the right time, especially without a solid game plan.
Yet, we don’t have to feel helpless or lost in the dark.
‘Cause when we look at Scripture, we find that game plan in Christ and his ministry.
Now, for many, when we think of Jesus, we think about the cross, a parable he taught or one of his many miracles. But perhaps one of the most underrated aspects of his ministry was how he shepherded his own heart by setting boundaries and accepting the limitations of his humanity.
Could Jesus have done more on certain days?
Yet, could he have also overstepped the boundary of authority given to him?
After all, it’s not like Jesus forsook his divinity when he took on human flesh.
However…even though Jesus fully knew his identity as the Son of God, he never abused this by trying to bite off more than he could chew. Why? Because Jesus…
- Understood the importance of rest…
- Understood how rest encouraged a lifestyle of obedience…and…
- Understood how rest maintained a posture of yieldedness, anchoring his priorities and needs to the will of God.
Thus, Jesus never flirted with the temptation to overextend himself, since he knew the right time to speak the truth in love, knew the right time to withdraw or redirect authority, knew when to call out unholy behavior and knew when to engage the expectations he had for people.
Bottom line: Jesus knew if people were to step into his yoke, then he had to have one to begin with. And he knew in order to cultivate the yoke, he had to rely on God so his allegiance, hunger and drive could be refreshed.
However, just because Jesus was driven, didn’t mean he was hauling 60, 70+ hours a week…as hard as that is to believe.
Rather, Jesus could have cared less about how busy life got because he knew he could rely on what God provided…and knew he could know God’s heart if he daily postured himself.
You see, Jesus’ ministry didn’t end with rest, it started with rest* . Jesus didn’t spend quiet time with God when he had the time. He made it his priority before anything else happened. Thus, when the time came for action, for teaching, for healing, for loving the outcasts, Jesus had the capacity to fully execute because his pace was still rooted in obedience to God’s will.
And for 21st century ministers, caught up in a “work hard to reap the rest” mindset, it’s easy to forget what Jesus did behind the scenes. But it’s here where we must redirect our focus and realize it’s not about how many hours we put in during the week, but what we do with those hours that counts.
Stay tuned for next time, when we’ll talk about the difference between walls and boundaries…and how pastors can effectively establish these boundaries (whether personal, ethical or relational) while also making time for rest, family and quality time with God.
* Gaultiere, B. (n.d.). Ministry Begins with Rest – Soul Shepherding. Retrieved September 9, 2014.