Lessons in Leadership: Resting from external pressures

18 May 2021

By Colin White

It’s a reality of ministry that we often find ourselves in the firing line of people’s fears and anxieties as we serve.

Every person needs to be heard – but how do you hold space with people to invite the peace of Jesus into the conversation. And how do you diffuse the feeling that you need to solve or fix everything as a leader?

Colin White, of Missionheart ACT, shares some of his learnings.

In this season, I have been learning about resting from external pressures. 

Hebrews 4:8-11 reveals that we need to choose to enter into rest: “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

I’m learning that I need to ‘rest’ in Jesus and ‘rest’ with Jesus: to live life from this place of rest with Him and live life as an external outworking of being with God. 

At Missionheart’s Drop-In, and in life in general, there are many pressures and demands placed on us, and these can very quickly become allowed to dictate what we do and when we do them. We end up responding and reacting to these external pressures. 

The problem with living like this is that we can miss what the Holy Spirit is doing in us, around us and through us in our daily lives.

I’ve found there are times when I’ve needed to listen to someone’s demand on me and then allow them to sit in an uncomfortable space as I choose not to allow their demand to influence me. This is hard to do. But I make that choice not because I don’t care, but because I’m trying to listen beyond the surface to ask: “What is God up to in this situation?”. 

When it comes to following Jesus, there are many specific times where choosing Him requires saying no to something else. 

Think about the time Jesus was interrupted on the way to heal a desperately ill child (Luke 8:40-44). He felt the power drain out of Him as a woman touched the hem of his garment.

At that moment, he abandoned the original situation to deal with a new concern. He recognised that right here, right now, that this was the moment the Holy Spirit was up to something. The other ‘pressing moment’ could wait.  

I wonder how many Holy Spirit moments we miss because we’re responding to external pressures like these. How many times do we miss following the Holy Spirit because it seems a little like a distraction?

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so by entering into this ‘rest’, we’re both choosing Jesus and entering into Him, as well as Him giving us rest and peace: “… make every effort to enter that rest …” (Hebrews 4:11).

I believe this means choosing Jesus, and also this means choosing whatever He’s up to and making that our priority.

In certain times, this will mean internally stepping back from a situation to see what God is saying or doing. Other times it’ll mean physically stepping away to see what God is up to. And yes, at times, following what the Holy Spirit is up to will upset people as it also means allowing ourselves to be distracted by Him or taken way off course as we follow Him, but the reward is so worth it … because it’s Him!