We usually think that stress is caused by life’s negative pressures or unhappy events. Those are easily recognized. However, sometimes we do not realize that even “good pressures” and working for a good cause, such as in service to God, may result in unhealthy effects of long-standing stress. The key is to evaluate how balanced our lives are. If we are not getting proper rest, our bodies may experience profound physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual damage. We must be reminded that, as ministers in God’s service, it is our duty to “put our glass down” for a while and rest. What does it mean to put the glass down?
A lecturer once raised a glass of water and asked, “How
heavy is this glass of water?” Answers ranged from 20g to
500g. He replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends
on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute,
that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache
in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an
ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer
I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” He continued, “And that’s
the way it is with managing the stress and responsibilities in
our lives. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later,
as burdens become increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to
carry on.” As with the glass of water, you have to put it down
for a while and rest before holding it again. And, when you
are refreshed, you can carry your responsibilities in a more
This healthy concept was best exemplified by Christ Himself.
He had a perfect sense of when to serve and minister to
others and when to stop and rest. In Mark 1:35-38, we read
about a crowd looking for Jesus, seeking to be healed and to
listen to His words. But after a long and full day ministering
to their needs, Jesus woke up early the next day to rest and
commune with God. When the disciples found Him praying
and resting under a tree, they told Him, “Master, the multitude
is looking for you. . .” Instead of stopping and going to attend
to the needs of the crowd, Jesus decided to leave and go to
another town. You may ask, “How could He leave that needy
multitude?” Jesus knew His mission, and in His daily devotions,
the Holy Spirit revealed to Him when to say “Yes” and
when to say “No.” He had wisdom from above to know when
to “put the glass down” for a while.
Sometimes it’s easy to be so fully engaged in ministry
that we forget to rest our minds, bodies, and souls. As I travel
around the world, I have seen many dedicated leaders who
find little time for rest. Some even feel guilty when they rest.
We must remember that God never asked us to sacrifice
our health and our families as we serve. We must choose
to set time aside for rest, to enjoy His presence alone daily,
and make time for loved ones and even hobbies. That is an
essential part of our ministry and living a healthy life. As we
finish this year, we are reminded to follow Jesus’ example.
May we each seek His wisdom and plan ahead to put our
work down as needed, seeking rest in His presence. We can
pick it up tomorrow, or a few days later, reenergized to best
fulfill His plan for us.
Katia Reinert is associate director of the Health Ministries
Department for the General Conference.