Invitations to Rhythms of Rest for Leaders

by Aug 19, 2016Cultivate4 comments

Rest is not only for our weariness; it’s a vital rhythm of our lives,
filled with God’s urgent invitations for our souls to make space to breathe
so we might become more alive in who we are and all we do
as we more wholeheartedly love and serve Him.

A beautiful, creative woman sat across from me relaying what she labeled as her scattered thoughts. As her words tumbled out and skittered across the hour of our conversation, she seemed to gain a sense of where God was holding her in the moment. She declared that she was okay. Currently her only prayers were one or two words, and those simple expressions were enough for her. She took in a deep breath and clung to rest.

I remember a similar season when the name “Jesus” was all the prayer I could muster. Another time, I simply held my Bible across my chest as I grasped for sleep. The wordless prayer held my deep hope that the Holy Spirit would voice what I couldn’t.

A couple months ago, I found myself nearly in that place again. This time my body’s fight for fullness of health worked against my big dreams for career and ministry progress. Tapped out energy reserves crippled creativity and fogged the glasses of full coherent thought.

It was the beginning of summer, and for completely separate reasons, Sarah and I took a break from the Voice of Courage blog to rest, to watch and wait for God’s restoration within our unique places of need or brokenness.


Perhaps a part of what God was up to was helping us practice a leadership pacing that we would encourage in others—a pacing that God shapes for each of us as he invites rhythms of rest into our unique seasons. Yours might be clustered around health or relationships, ministry, team or work, or simply life. Something has your soul in its grip.

What restful perspective do you long for? Be still for a moment.
What do you sense is God’s invitation for you? Specifically you.

“Come to me all you who are weary,” Jesus invited. Those verses in The Message are packed with invitations for the weary and for those longing for fullness of life:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

Do you see the invitations?

In the thick of burn out, in trying to scrape together a faith that holds everything together but only crumbles in dust, in the trenches of leadership that stretches thin and pleads for fullness of life, Jesus reaches out his hand toward us and says:

Come to me.
Get away with me.
Walk with me and work with me.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
Keep company with me.

And it is in stepping out of the dust particles and whirring of life toward being with him that we find that real rest, those unforced rhythms, his grace to live freely, lightly, more fully.

What do you need rest from?
Try to identify it in its current subtly or blatant reality.
What is God’s invitation of rest for this?

Are you longing for space to breathe, for more fullness of life?

As women, as leaders and influencers in our homes, communities, ministries and organizations, rhythms of rest are like opening up the window to the freshness of God’s breeze blowing continuously over our lives. Those we learn from him and take into our life are vital, like deep breaths of pure oxygen.

We can only breathe out to others what we have, through resting, breathed in from Him.

Trying On a Rhythm of Rest

Take an hour, or more if possible, to be with Jesus in the quiet.
Read through Matthew 11:28-30 or another Scripture of your choosing.
Turn to Jesus in prayer as if he’s right beside you and tell him where you are in your need for rest.
Ask him what his heart is for you and listen for his specific invitations for you.
Allow him to begin to shape rhythms of rest for the uniqueness of your life and your areas of leadership and influence.
Be mindful, intentional, about how God is shaping a rhythm of prayer for your days, your weeks, your seasons.

As you consider this, I hope you are sensing his presence drawing you nearer, his love wrapping its arms around you. You are loved right where you are with all your cares, your burdens, your questions, your need for real rest. You are loved right into his invitations that are as vital as the air you breathe.


  1. Susan Sage

    Love this as usual, Jan.
    Have you seen my post from this week? I hadn’t had a chance to read this post but read it after posting mine. I always find it noteable when God brings the same idea from more than one source. Makes me sit up and pay attention just a bit more.
    Thanks for posting this. God bless.

    • Jan Kern

      I enjoy when a thread seems to be woven through my days through conversations or reading and catches my attention. How fun that God did that with us with “rest”! You’ve added another wonderful angle to the theme of rest with your post, Susan.

  2. Debbie Boon

    Love this Jan! Seasons of Rest are important for us to continue on track. Wish I could be with you in October, however Mike and I will be retreating to Ascutney Mountains in Vermont from Oct 21-30.

    • Jan Kern

      Yes–get that retreat in wherever you can! And doing it in the beautiful mountains of Vermont in the autumn with your husband sounds lovely . . . and perfect. May your time together give opportunity for much rest! Enjoy, Debbie!

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