by Lance Witt
Maybe right now you’re at a ministry crossroads. Perhaps ministry and life haven’t turned out like you’d hoped. Maybe today you find yourself empty and drained from the demands of ministry.
There is hope. There is a different way . . . a better way. Your outward circumstances might not change, but you can change the trajectory of your soul. With God’s help, you really can bring your soul back to life. Joy can return. Passion can be reignited. Intimacy can be restored.
Jeremiah 6:16a has given me a bit of roadmap on my journey back to spiritual health. This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Stand at the crossroads and look.
If you’re going to take the road that leads to spiritual health, you have to stand. Stand still. You have to stop running long enough to make an informed decision about which road you will travel. An old Chinese proverb says, “If we don’t change the direction we’re going, we’re likely to end up where we are headed.” Look ahead. If you stay on the road you’re traveling today, where are you going to end up? At the beginning of the new year, let me encourage you to schedule a half day or full day to think, reflect, pray, listen, and be with God.
Ask for the ancient paths. The past is a friend. Many people walked the road before us, and we can learn a lot from them. Having a healthy soul isn’t some new idea but rather ancient revelation. It’s about following the footsteps of those who’ve gone before us. They’re up ahead, motioning back to us and saying, “Come this way. This is the path of spiritual health. This road will help you stay in love with Jesus and finish well.” In this year, maybe one of your commitments needs to be to read some books that feed your soul. Put yourself under the tutelage of leaders who can both diagnose and prescribe the way of a healthy soul.
Ask where the good way is, and walk in it. It’s not the fast way. It’s not the busy way. It’s not even the leadership way that Jeremiah tells us to ask for. It is the good way. That is what God wants for you. More than He wants you to have a “good” ministry, God wants you to have a “good” life—a life that is emotionally healthy, relationally satisfying, and spiritually life-giving. Notice also in this passage, that the challenge is not just to discover the good way, but also to walk in it. In this new year, what would it look like for you to “walk” in the good way? You might have to make some hard decisions. You might have to simplify and say “no” to some opportunities. You might have to learn a different rhythm of life and ministry.
And you will find rest for your souls. You might be familiar with this verse, but if you were reading this for the first time, I think you would be shocked at these words. I would have expected God to say “you will find success for your ministry” or “you will discover a prosperous life” or “you will live a blessed life.” But God offers something even deeper and richer. He offers an incredible promise… rest for your “soul”. So many of us in ministry are in need rest for our soul. Could it be that this is what I really need most and even most deeply long for? Could it be God’s first priority in my life is a connected and joyful and refreshed soul? Could it be true in my ministry that his “yoke is easy and [his] burden is light”? Could it be possible to find the kind of rest for my soul that leads me to say, genuinely, “Jesus is enough”?
May this year bring “rest for your soul” and may you do your ministry from a place of spiritual rest.
Lance Witt is the founder of Replenish Ministries, an organization devoted to ministering pastors to help them become healthy, holy, and humble. He also serves as the Pastor for Strategic Development at Thomas Road Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. replenish.net