How Rest is an Act of Spiritual Warfare
As we have spent the last couple of months reading “Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” and focusing our Sundays around the theme of not being hurried and busy, like many of you, I have loved the opportunity to CHOOSE to live a slower, more connected and contemplative emotional, physical and spiritual life.The Lord has continued to teach and show us how rest is an act of spiritual warfare, a tangible resistance against the enemy of greed, notoriety, self-satisfaction, and achievement. Jesus has an entirely different way of life for us, where we don’t rest AFTER we have wrung out every last drop of our energy but by orienting ourselves in prayer and worship BEFORE we start our day, week, or season.
- We rest as worship.
- We rest in the knowledge that God can accomplish far more through our surrender than striving.
- We rest as resistance to the lie that says our worth can be found in what we earn, produce, or achieve.
During his ministry years, Jesus worked extremely hard to expand the Kingdom and present the “Good News” of forgiveness, reconciliation, and eternal life to everyone He could – but he didn’t do it without rest! For three years, His days and nights were full of teaching, healing, and travel so he could lead people to the Father. We often highlight all He did, so it is easy to miss that His hard and often grueling work was fueled by quiet, solitude, prayer, fasting, and BEING WITH His Father.
Jesus is our Example
As a team, leading this wonderful church, we look to Jesus for our example and cadence. We put ourselves and the beauty of what God is accomplishing in and around our church most at risk when we are tempted to live a “true for you, but not for us” message that allows us to teach of the immense grace of God and the power of a slow, restful and prayer-filled life while burning the candle at both ends to serve, minister, and be at everything anytime the door of the building is open or a need in our community arises. Nothing undermines the power of the message of the Gospel of grace like a minister who isn’t enraptured, immersed, and exuding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – not perfectly, but consistently—rejecting the sin or self-sufficiency and embracing the relational connection with Holy Spirit that brings about these fruit through conviction, repentance – renewed daily to live and lead from grace and mercy rather than human effort.
In 1999, when Garris and Jan Elkins took the leadership of Living Waters after a long stint working with church planters and missionaries, they brought a unique perspective on rest. They had witnessed firsthand how the zeal for the Gospel and the well-meaning tenacity of evangelism and church planting could skew leaders to live out of rhythm and push toward burnout. They taught us that we risk depleting our spiritual, emotional, and physical resources whenever we are sustained more by duty and performance rather than prayer and presence. Or, as author and Pastor Wayne Corderrio calls it, “leading on empty.” To counteract this cultural temptation in church leadership that skews us toward burnout, Garris and Jan emphasized resting to work rather than working to rest and implemented a Sabbatical rhythm for full-time staff (a 2 to 3-month time away every seven years).
This brings me to an important update that will impact our church for the next three months and well into the future! (Burying the lead a bit).
Niesje is taking a Sabbatical
Our Worship Team director, Pastor, and Young Adult leader, Niesje, is taking a Sabbatical! As you have all experienced firsthand, Niesje has served, loved, and led so well over the last seven years. When she initially came to us, she jumped in with the Greenwood (a full-time discipleship school we had), and the grace and anointing on her life continued to expand to where she is today: A beloved leader and voice in our house.
Kate and I are honored and thankful for her as a friend and ministry partner alongside us as we lead Living Waters. We wouldn’t be us without her, we wouldn’t be where we are without her, and we wouldn’t be going where we are going without her.
As Niesje comes to the seven-year mark in ministry, she is also embarking into a new season. This is why we felt an urgency to make room for her to rest and connect deeply with the Lord as she has become a wife to Pete Kroll, steps into motherhood alongside Pete (who has three amazing daughters), and moves into a new house while also navigating the profound work the Lord is doing in her heart right now!
I invite you to pray for Niesje in January, February, and March as she steps entirely away to be led, loved and rewed in rest. We are excited for her and so thankful for a church and team with the strength and ability to give our leaders Sabbatical rests throughout their years of ministry.
We hope you will join us this Sunday as Niesje leads us in corporate worship for the last time for three months. We want to send her into this next season surrounded in love and appreciation, with hands laid on her in prayer, commissioning her to rest entirely into what Jesus has for her!