Don’t Kill the Horse

This week, I’ve had the opportunity of teaching at Liberty University, and in one of my talks I’ve warned the group (ministerial and music grad students) about getting exhausted in church work — a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. In her devotional classic, Springs in the Valley, Mrs. Charles M. Cowman wrote:

Many are slowly succumbing to the strain of life because they have forgotten how to rest…. Rest is not a sedative for the sick, but a tonic for the strong…. It saves us from becoming slaves even of good works.

Having a well-ordered life and taking advantage of every minute doesn’t require living in hyperkinetic frenzy. On the contrary, it allows us to build in times for stillness, solitude, green pastures, quiet waters, rest, thinking, family time, days off, needed vacations, hobbies, recreation and relaxation.

This is both biblical and indispensible. The Bible says, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:10).

The famous Scottish pastor, Robert Murray M’Cheyne was one of the most powerful ministers to ever stand in the pulpits of Edinburgh and Dundee, but he died at the age of twenty-nine, partly because he had weakened his constitution by overwork, excessive busyness, and chronic fatigue. He reportedly said as he was dying, “The Lord gave me a horse to ride and a message to deliver. Alas, I have killed the horse and cannot deliver the message.”

The apostle Paul told the elders of Ephesus, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy spirit has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28, NKJV). If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of whatever flock God has given us.

Work hard… but don’t kill the horse.