The apostles (Jesus’ disciples who had been sent out to teach and heal) gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going…they did not even have a chance to eat.

Mark 6:30-31

How would you like this work environment? It’s worse than trading on the floor of the NYSE. People are coming and going all the time. No rest. No break. Who ever thought that doing ministry would involve this kind of frantic pace? 

For those of you that serve in a thriving local church, pause for a moment and drink in this picture of the activity of God. When God is at work saving and changing lives, God’s transforming love is so supernaturally attractive people come out of the woodwork with hurts and needs. 


Apparently, it is normal for those involved in ministry to be so overwhelmed they don’t even have a chance to eat. If it happened to Jesus and his disciples, why wouldn’t it happen to us when God is truly at work? Such frenetic activity is not limited to the business world, government, or a school campus. It happens in ministry – a lot.

But unlike his disciples, Jesus knew a steady diet of this stuff was spiritual suicide. Gently, he said,

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.                                                                        

Mark 6:31

Quiet Place

Why would spending time in a quiet place be so important? It’s where we encounter the Holy. Scripture puts it this way, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Non-stop activity is not the dwelling place of God. God is known in stillness.

On one level, we get this. Living life in a blur allows no time to think, no time to reflect on our direction, no time to check our emotional and spiritual gauges or make necessary course corrections. There is only time to do.

What we often don’t realize is how this scheme is both dangerous and monotonous. Not only does it cut us off from God’s presence; it reduces the possibility of real change to nearly zero.

Still Lugging

Do you know anyone who is still lugging around the same problems they had this time last year? Twelve months have gone by, but the situation they face at home, the problems they have at work, the personal issues they struggle with inside haven’t changed a bit. It is as if time stood still in those areas.

For some of them, there is no change in sight. It’s the sad result of steadfastly refusing to withdraw from others to be alone with God. Without solitude and silence, we lose God’s perspective and power to bring real change in our lives. To be honest, this phenomenon would be more surprising to me if I had not been its victim for many years.

After living a dangerous and monotonous life for far too long, I finally recognized my need to come away to a quiet place and rest. Graciously, during the busiest season of my life with young kids and growing ministries, the churches I served allowed me to string together two weeks of vacation and two weeks of study break in the summer.


As one might imagine, that month away revived my soul and gave me fresh ideas and enthusiasm for the next ministry season. But to my surprise, it offered much more. It helped me to love my wife as a precious gift from God, be a better father to the two kids I love the most in the world and listen more closely for the center of God’s will for my life.

While away, I was able to make changes in both attitude and behavior that would have never happened otherwise. It also saved me from losing my ministry to burnout. Such is the power of withdrawing from others to be alone with God.


Of course, slowing down is subversive to our culture’s values. We tend to look up to the person who is in demand and always on the go. Ironically, I’ve discovered that continual motion is a dead end. The busiest people in life are the deadest. People who never stop never grow.

God has so much more for our lives. Perhaps this summer, as you are planning time away, you can also plan a day or two alone with God. Trust me, it can change your life.

To receive Roger’s weekly posts about spiritual leadership and positive change, please subscribe here:

Roger Ross

A native of Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served as a pastor in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. While in Illinois, he led teams that planted two new churches and served for 10 years as the lead pastor of one of the largest United Methodist Churches in the Midwest. It was his privilege to serve as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference before coming into his current role with Spiritual Leadership, Inc (SLI).

Roger now comes alongside pastors, non-profit leaders and their leadership teams as an executive coach, specializing in leadership that inspires change. As a side gig, he loves teaching evangelism and church planting as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas.

Other passions of his include SCUBA diving in warm blue water, Krispy Kremes, and board games with family and friends. He also has a weakness for golf.

Roger is the author of three books, Meet The Goodpeople: Wesley’s 7 Ways to Share Faith, Come Back: Returning to the Life You Were Made For, and Come Back Participant Guide, all through Abingdon Press.

Now for the best part. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they live Bloomington, Illinois. God has blessed them with two adult children, a son-in-law, several tropical fish, and one adorable granddog.