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A June 2, 2021, Christianity Today article (Has the Pandemic Made Your Pastor Want to Quit? Probably) noted that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to a “turnover tsunami” in many professions. 

Similarly, those in pastoral ministry have not been immune to re-evaluating their desire and ability to continue serving in their vocational roles. In fact, a study by the Barna group indicated that almost one-third of pastors have considered a career change over the last year.

As I connect with classis colleagues in my role as Regional Pastor, and as I speak with pastors across Canada in my role as the Canadian Church Relations Liaison for Calvin Seminary, I’m encountering men and women who are often discouraged, frustrated, or weary.  And understandably so! 

Whether it’s navigating the ever-changing pandemic restrictions and protocols or dealing with congregational conflict related to the same, this has been a season of ministry leadership unlike any other in our lifetime.

If the pandemic has highlighted anything for us as pastors and other ministry leaders, it’s our need for appropriate sabbath rest. But that begs the question: what type of rest are we most in need of?

Through the June 2021 Christianity Today article referenced above, I became aware of Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s work identifying seven different types of rest. She argues that while taking a vacation, or dialing back on some responsibilities, or getting more sleep might be the answer for some, what’s most needed to renew our energy and restore our sanity often varies for each one of us at different points in time. 

She has developed a free online assessment tool (Rest Quiz) to help individuals determine what type of rest they presently need most. When I took the quiz, I discovered that emotional rest and creative rest were the two categories of rest where I faced the greatest deficit. While I scored well in the areas of physical, spiritual, and social rest, I probably needed to also be paying some attention to my need for mental rest and sensory rest as well.

In the early seasons of the pandemic, I had often encouraged the pastors I serve to remember their need for sabbath. However, before last June, I had never really helped them process what kind of rest deficit they might be facing. As a result, I decided to send out a link to Dalton-Smith’s rest quiz and invited them to take it. 

The responses from those who completed the assessment were encouraging! One, for instance, indicated he regularly takes time each summer to re-evaluate his sabbath practices and that the quiz served as a helpful tool in that journey. Another said that the tool served to highlight for her that there were certain key types of rest that were missing in her life.  

The email that one receives after having taken the rest quiz also provides links to a variety of videos and blogs by Dalton-Smith, as well as to her book, Sacred Rest: Recover your Life, Renew Your Energy, and Restore Your Sanity (Sacred Rest). The book provides further insights on each of the seven types of rest and ways to incorporate the suggested healing and restorative practices into one’s life.

For your own well-being and for the sake of the Kingdom, seek rest! But not just any rest. Seek the type of rest you’re most in need of in order to better experience life to the full and to serve God with your “best self!”

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