Tired Pastor, Meet Jesus

By Matt Henslee

This whole COVID-19 season is tiring. I thought it was just me, but the more I talk to fellow pastors, I’m learning it’s a shared feeling. We’re tired. Perhaps not as much physical exhaustion as spiritual or mental, but we’re plumb tuckered out.

In John 4, we see Jesus leave Judea and head for Galilee, and John writes, “He had to travel through Samaria” (John 4:4 CSB). This was the norm for many travelers during this time, but we miss something poignant when we head straight to his interaction with the Samaritan woman in verses 7-26.

What we miss is John 4:5-6: “So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. It was about noon.”

Let’s put it this way: Jesus was plumb tuckered out. The headaches causing Him to leave (John 4:1-2), sent Him on a long, arduous journey to Galilee (John 4:3), and our Savior grew weary, which called for a pit stop in Samaria (John 4:5-6).

And John says He “sat down at the well.” In other words, our Savior rested. That’s not the only time, either. One of my favorites is in Matthew 8. After He cleansed the leper (Matt. 8:1-4), after He healed the Centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13), after the healings at Capernaum (Matt. 8:14-17), and after the crowds just kept coming (Matt. 8:18-22), we read:

“As he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly, a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves—but Jesus kept sleeping” (Matthew 8:23-24 CSB).

After a long day of ministry, Jesus was tired enough to sleep through a violent storm on the sea! Like our tendency to jump straight to the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4, it’s easy to get right to Him calming the raging sea and the disciples’ astonishment: “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matt. 8:27 CSB)

Have you ever been so tired you just had to stop, so tired you could even sleep through a storm? Tired pastor, meet Jesus. Let these two (of many) examples permit you to hit the pause button.

If Jesus stopped on His journey to rest, so can you. If Jesus slept through a storm, so can you. Our shared journey at the moment is very tiring. The coronavirus “storm” is raging, and many of us are frustrated, worried, and plumb tuckered out. If you’re going to “lead like Jesus,” don’t forget our Savior took the time to stop, rest, and even nap.

As a leader, if you’re consistently running on empty, you’re heading for destruction—or at least burnout. Take some time on each day’s “journey” to stop and rest. Better yet, take a nap. This “storm” seems like it’ll be with us for a while. For the sake of your spouse, kids, and church members, hit the pause button regularly to recharge your batteries.

If Jesus napped, so can you.,

Published May 5, 2020

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Matt Henslee

Matt Henslee (@mhenslee) is the pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, New Mexico, D.Min student of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of a few books, including Evangelize to Revitalize and Text-Driven Invitation.