Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Mark 1:35-37

 

In Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe’s book, The Revolutionary Communicator, they highlight the fact that Jesus made time for solitude amidst the incredible demands of his ministry. “Jesus, of course, was well aware his presence and words were in demand. This is precisely why he traded an hour or two of sleep for time alone. For Jesus, solitude and quiet, reflection and prayer, were lifeblood” (The Revolutionary Communicator, 118).

A woman sitting in solitude by a lake.The Harvard Business Review reports that businesses are in trouble even though recent economic figures look strong. The vast majority of workers in the US are unengaged with their work (70%) and another study showed that the 20% of workers who are highly-engaged in their work are at risk of burnout. That leaves a small number of workers who are “optimally engaged” with their work: engaged with work but without burnout. This means that when you look around your office, go to a meeting or get coffee, the majority of people you see (up to 90%) are either unengaged with work or burned out with work—or both. Something needs to change. And attempts to retain skilled workers and prevent burnout now include things like meditation and mindfulness, which is now a yearly billion-dollar industry.

This same risk of burnout is very apparent in the church. As you look at the statistics about pastors reported by my friends at Soul Shepherding, the need for a recalibration of the American pastorate is clear:

80% of pastors will not be in church ministry after ten years.

91% have experienced some form of burnout.

85% have never been on sabbatical.

So what shall we do with all of this bad news? As with all things in the Christian life, we seek to become more like our leader, Jesus Christ, by looking at his life and spending time with him. He made it a practice to engage in “solitude and quiet, reflection and prayer,” and we are challenged to follow his lead regardless of whether we lead in the business world, the church, a non-profit, or in our family.

Something to Think About:

“In a media age, we assume that… a great communicator makes things happen from the front of a crowd. In every age, the truth is… without time away from the crowd, we have nothing to offer to it” (The Revolutionary Communicator, 114).

Something to Do:

Look at the next thirty days and choose at least one day in which you’ll make space to spend an hour or two with Jesus in “solitude and quiet, reflection and prayer.” Email us at the De Pree Center or comment below if you’d like some ideas of how to plan this time away with the Lord and how to do it amidst busy schedules.

Prayer:

Jesus, I am not immune to busyness, burnout, disengagement, and worry. With the demands on my time and energy, and amidst all the noise, help me to hear your voice calling me to be still and quiet with you. Give me an awareness of my need to simply be with you. And help me make it a date on my calendar that will not be interrupted or usurped. You deserve my best, not only in my work but in my rest. I choose to rest in you today. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Beginning of the Gospel (Mark 1:1-13)

7 Comments

  • As one who is a member of a non programmed Friends Meeting, I have built into my life weekly hours when I am not alone,but with a gathering of kindred spirits who seek guidance in the quiet. While not every meeting for worship yields the fullness of knowing the indwelling spirit, this sets the tone for my week when I might make time to go to that place within to find peace, quiet and to listen for the Spirit of the Lord who does speak.
    For those who have not worshiped in this way, I encourage you to seek out a nearby unprogrammed Friends Meeting to give this a try.

    • Fantastic resource and idea. Tomorrow’s devotion will touch in the importance of community and Friends meetings and others like it can help us connect with God and God’s family of believers—both a part of a sustainable and healthy life and ministry.

  • “Solitude and quiet, reflection and prayer.” I am very much in need of any tips to plan this time. I am on the verge burnout and I am not able take any sustained time away for the next few months. I need this now.
    Thank you!

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