Pastors: ‘Draw near to throne of grace,’ set aside time to rest

Pastors: ‘Draw near to throne of grace,’ set aside time to rest

After some 50 years as a preacher — including more than 38 of those years as pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church, Auburn — Al Jackson believes every pastor will have three lifelong “companions” for which he must seek the help of God to manage.

“These (companions) are unwanted but necessary for our sanctification and growth in Christ-likeness,” he said.

“Your first companion as a pastor is fatigue,” he told those attending Shelby Baptist Association’s monthly pastors conference Nov. 7. “Gospel ministry is hard work. … The fatigue we face is physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.

“I read that (the late) Herschel Hobbs once said that a one-hour sermon was the equivalent of a 15-mile walk. Of course, there aren’t many one-hour sermons anymore but many pastors preach in multiple services on Sundays and this takes a toll.”

Finding rest

Jackson pointed to John 4 and Mark 4 where Jesus was fatigued and set aside time to rest. Ministers must find a Sabbath other than Sunday to rest, Jackson said. For him it’s normally Friday — a day he guards.

“I’ve learned to say ‘no’ to some requests that aren’t vital or that others can do, unless this is an emergency, of course,” he said. “I do this in order to pace myself and be faithful to Jesus. And I take every single day of annual leave our church offers me to recharge my batteries.”

Jackson said fighting fatigue includes eating wisely and doing some type of exercise.

The second companion is criticism, he said.

Criticism may be minimal in some seasons and expansive in other seasons but it’s never far away from any leader.

“Jesus was often criticized, so it’s part of the territory when we follow Him,” Jackson said, noting the antidote for criticism is to “draw near to the throne of grace” for God’s mercy and help, as Hebrews 4 teaches.

“And the third unwanted companion is discouragement,” he said. “Jesus was discouraged in John 6 so it’s not a sin to be disappointed. It’s part of our humanness.”

Pastors pour their lives into others, encouraging, nurturing and discipling, and sometimes the work seems fruitless, Jackson said.