Luke 5:16 “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”
The path to service is often a long and exhausting one. For example, men or women who desire to run for public office spend inordinate amounts of time and money pushing their name in front of the voters. They develop a plan, gather workers, and try to make their ideals known and acceptable to as many people as possible. They have a goal and run towards it at full speed. While I believe it is admirable to pursue any type of ministry, I also believe there is a time when you need to step back and rest.
Recently, I have read a number of books about former United States presidents and their runs for public office. In her book, Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections that Shaped the Twentieth Century, author Margaret O’Mara compares four different elections and how they changed history. Although I didn’t understand every detail of the multi-faceted nuances of each election or political ideal, I did ask myself, “What is one take away from this book?”
Caring For People is Exhausting
One consistent theme for most candidates was the incredible amount of activity they invested on their endeavors. My head spun when I read about the thousands of speeches, handshaking, party attending, relationship developing, non-sleeping, super charged, high speed, railway train living that most of the candidates endured during their run for office. Add that to perfecting people skills, word massaging, and emotion milking, and you have one exhausted man or woman who may or may not finally attain a huge personal goal.
When I compare this type of focused determination with the way Jesus approached ministry on earth I see a great disparity. Jesus also spent many hours teaching and ministering to crowds. He spoke with and healed numerous individuals. He traveled to touch the dying and confronted evil spirits torturing their hosts. Yet He also understood the importance of finding time alone to commune with His Father. There were times when He purposefully sent the crowds away to give Himself and His disciples time to rest and recuperate from a busy day.
Jesus Took Time to Rest and Pray
Sometimes He slipped away to focus on His closest followers. Other times He knelt alone to pray in a quiet and deserted place. These times prepared Him for even more effective ministry. While alone, He gained strength for the assignments of the day, and understanding of His Father’s will. At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, despite these moments of pause, He finished all that God had called Him to do. Staying in high gear every moment of every day was not necessary to fulfilling His calling on earth.
Caring for people on any sort of level can be exhausting. Running for a public office takes a lot of time and money, but so does any type of care ministry. The opportunities to touch someone never end. But running full speed ahead to meet needs does not guarantee a successful effort.
Follow Jesus’ Pattern of Caring for People
I learned some things from my most recent book. First, I will never be President of the United States; I just don’t have the energy to run for public office. But most importantly, the best way of caring for people is not to drain yourself dry. Find out what God has called you to do and work hard, but regularly slip away from the crowds to rest and pray. This is how Jesus fulfilled His calling, and it is a pattern we also should follow.