The various seasons of life on a college campus create a beautiful rhythm to college ministry, but after a long semester, they can leave you exhausted. Our students are tired and in need of rest and so are we. I share this from the perspective of a first-year campus minister, a newly hired Associate Pastor, and a seminarian, all of which have begun during this crazy season of Covid. It's safe to say I've never needed rest more in my life, yet it's something I continually struggle to practice. I don't believe I'm alone in this struggle, so I'm writing this to not only serve as an encouragement to other ministers but as a reminder to myself. My instinct, our instinct, is to care for others' needs, but we cannot do so to the detriment of our own needs. This season our challenge should be to find rest physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Physically we are tired from the semester. There have been long days, late nights, and weekend events. Emotionally we need to rest. This semester has brought many unique stresses and challenges. We have been leading ministries in new and unchartered territory. We've had to be creative and adapt to new ways of ministry, which takes its toll. Most importantly, we need to find spiritual rest. This semester, our students have carried new burdens from missing out on graduations, mourning the loss of family members, anxiety over life, and the stress of being on campus. We have cared for them and helped to shoulder these burdens. We spent the last few months caring for our students' spiritual health, leading our ministries through the challenges of Covid, and so much more. Now is the time to take care of ourselves.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2-3
I struggle with taking time to rest. For me, rest causes feelings of guilt and leads me to think of all of the productive ways I could be serving. Thankfully God offers us a better model. God took time to rest, and so should we. God's love for me and for all of us is not dependent on what we can accomplish for Him. We are not doing ourselves or our ministries any favors by neglecting to rest and recharge. For me, this means finding the time to hike and to just be outdoors in nature. The importance is not on how we find rest, but that we find rest. We have been creative about how we lead our ministries during this season; now, let us find creative ways to rest.
As ministers, we need to lead by example. We need to take time to care for ourselves, to rest, and to recharge. We need to do these for our own wellbeing, but also to model these for our students. Even when they aren't on campus, our students are watching and following our lead. Are we modeling to them the importance of rest?
Interim Campus Minister at Longwood University/HSC