I need to rest. This is an everyday truth for me. But it is hard to rest because I have so much to do each and every day. How will I get everything done if I take time to rest? Who will take up the slack, especially in a busy season of life?

These are thoughts I have just about every day. It seems like it is hard to turn my mind off and just enjoy being present. But if I am not careful, I will find myself in a cycle leading to burnout which will be detrimental for me and my family.

Burnout is absolutely no fun. I have learned how to pay attention to the “warning signs” I am beginning to burnout. I get irritable more often. I have a case of the “I don’t wannas.” I don’t feel the joy in the things I love. It is hard for me to be around people.

There are more subtle signs I am beginning to burnout. I don’t feel the need to do my best, I end up settling for subpar work. Or, I just keep missing deadlines because I don’t feel like working.

This is no way to live. No joy. No hope. No cares about doing my best. Seeking to be isolated.

My guess is this is not just me that gets this way. I know you do too. The question then becomes, what are the signs you are burning out? (Carey Nieuwhof has a great book on this called “Didn’t See it Coming”)

When we get to this place of burnout we need to know what refreshes and encourages and nourishes our soul. The truth is we need to be able to avoid burnout by doing these practices every week. So what are some things that refresh my soul and keep me joyful and away from burnout?

First of all, I need to be honest and let you know I do not always follow this, and therefore find myself needing to be recharged and pulled out of the despair of burnout.

Every year, unless it is absolutely impossible, I attend a men’s sabbath spiritual retreat in the mountains. In early October, several of my friends (and soon to be new friends) gather together for about a week. The best part? There is NO agenda! The only things we need to “attend” is nightly dinner and nightly worship of prayer, music, scripture, and message. The rest of the time is up to us. We do what we need, whether that means hanging out with others, spending time alone, we get to choose! I always come back spiritually recharged. This retreat always comes at the perfect time.

Weekly, I am developing a habit of sabbath. My mind needs a break. My heart needs to focus on something greater than a to-do task list or projects or the weekly grind. I need to intentionally focus on the Creator to remind me I am created by and for him. See when I keep this perspective, I am better able to handle and do what needs to be done. Why? Because I am “working” and living for something/someone even greater than I. I am taking the time to praise my God who created and designed me to do what I do.

I also love to read. I find myself listening to books more than reading the paper books, but I still love this! My favorite books to read are practical and non-fiction, sometimes biographies. But everything I read I hope points my mind to the presence of the Living God all around and in me. I get to learn more about this world and remember how God desires I live (especially when I’m imperfect).

Above all of this, I really do love spending time with my family and doing things with them. This upcoming school year will mean 4 day school weeks for my kids, so we’ll have more time to do things on the weekends and do more together. I am praying this extra time allows us to travel, explore, and grow more together.

So these are some of the things that refresh my soul. What about you? What helps you stayed focused, experience joy, live a life of peace, experience/live into/share the love you have been given?

Published by Ryan Stratton

Ryan Stratton is a pastor in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves with his wife, Amanda, along with their children. He writes about life, faith, and leadership through his blog.

One thought on “REFRESHING MY SOUL

  1. The practice of the sabbath is a forgotten thing we need to return to! The Lord of the sabbath calls us, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened down..and I will give you rest.” Good reminder! Thanks!

    Sent from my iPad



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