When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

Matthew 14:13

And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 

Mark 6:30-32

And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

Luke 9:10

After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

John 6:1

Right on the heels of getting the bad news about John the Baptist, Jesus’ disciples return from their preaching journey no doubt exhausted and hungry but eager to tell Jesus how things went. Jesus knows that Herod is interested in seeing Him. He is not afraid of Herod but it is not time yet for a public confrontation with the leaders of Israel and Rome. The disciples probably do need a rest so He takes them out in a desert for rest.

One of the most important things to understand is that rest is important. God designed man and designed a 7-day week with one day being a day of rest, the Sabbath. This design is the same for preachers. After all, they are only human!

I myself have been a bi-vocational preacher for most of my ministry. This means that I have worked at least one secular job in addition to trying to pastor a church at the same time. This was the case, not because the church did not support the idea of a full-time pastor, it was simply because the size of the congregation could not support the full responsibility. 

Many of God’s ministers are in this same situation. They do this willingly and most without complaint. But even in the case of a full-time pastor, we need to realize that preachers are men and they need rest.

So, how can we help? 

We can work toward the goal of freeing their hands to minister full time by having a plan to increase their financial support. We can honor their family time and only contact them by appointment unless it is a dire emergency. We can encourage them to take days off. But perhaps one of the most important things we can do is realize the emotional and mental weight that is on our pastor (especially since the pandemic). We can pray for peace for him, and then look around our own families and the church body to see where we can help him in encouragement, in visitation, in counseling, and in discipline. 

Consider Paul’s words regarding how we should view our pastor and our role as members of a local church:

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

1st Thessalonians 5:12-15

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