You may have already had a visceral reaction to the title of this article or to the picture: “Renewal… seriously, now I have to do that too?!” Or “I’d love to be less dried up and spent than this picture, but even the thought of addressing it exhausts me.”
Even as I write this, I’m highly conscious of the tipping point you may be facing. Do you keep reading only to feel guilted by an article that feels like piling-on, or do you just stop reading now?
I hope you decide to stay with me!
Teacher, Administrator, Leader, Caregiver, please know that my heart is for you as you near the end of another cycle of output. I’m praying that the next few minutes of your time will be life-giving. And that you’ll find something that will escort you to the flourishing God intends.
Let me give you four actions of renewal. Think of these as refreshment options lined up in front of you. A cup of chilled fresh-squeezed orange juice, a beautiful glass of water, an ice-cold cola, or whatever your favourite beverage is.
Refresher #1 – Do things differently
After a season of high performance, doing things differently can be life-giving. Shift your morning routine. Take a different path home from school. Try doing something with your less dominant hand. All these actions impact our brain and create new awareness. You’ll smell new smells, adjust to new timings, or discover something you’ve forgotten about how your body works. Getting out of the ruts we’ve worn in our behaviour and our thinking helps us rediscover how God has created us. God didn’t craft us so that we could perform tasks for him. His first action was blessing. “Humanity was first blessed and then given the call to work the earth. We don’t work for blessing; we work fromblessing. This deep sense of being loved and wanted and known is what marks us as God’s image bearers in the world.”
Refresher #2 – Discovery: Blaze a new trail
What’s the last thing you discovered just for yourself? Not something to put into a lesson plan, but just because you were curious. Blaze a new trail just for the fun of it. When I lived in Germany, I discovered a couple of hiking trails in the area, and they led to amazing beauty and adventure with friends and family. Maybe it’s time to borrow or rent a musical instrument and just have some fun with it. Aundi Kolber in her book Try Softer writes, “Jesus came to show us the truest, best way to be human – not by denying His humanity but by embracing it. By living in it. By dying in it. And then, finally, by being resurrected in a glorified body. Jesus loves our humanity.”
Refresher #3 – Give yourself permission to rest
For some of us, permission to rest can feel awkward, even on the edge of guilt. For most of us in TeachBeyond what we do is never “built.” We haven’t completed the perfect day in the classroom, or raised more than enough support, or solved all the problems people (or we) face. I must remind myself that I’m not God. That job has been filled by Someone much more qualified than I! I deceive myself when I think that I can’t afford to rest; there’s so much to be done. Against this false narrative, press into the quiet words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus says with absolute clarity that you and I will find rest in him. And that when we step into working his way, with his supportive structure we find ease and lightness. But we need to decide to work his way to receive his rest. Jesus offers us rest, but we must permit ourselves to exhale into it.
Refresher #4 – Live connected: Do life together
What happens when busyness is running our agenda? Interactions with others become tasks and appointments on our calendar. Whether you are introverted or extroverted by nature, we are made to live connected. Yet our interactions can become transactional as we drive to accomplish tasks. And who sees the fractures in our relationships under stress? Well… probably most everyone. So, as you consider refresher #4 consider taking a deep drink of healthy relationship. Release any hurt you are holding. Ask for forgiveness. Multiply the unlimited love God has shown to you. Jon Tyson in his book The Burden is Light encourages us to “preach” truth to one another. “May we preach mercy to those who feel like spiritual failures… May we preach mercy to those who feel as though they will never measure up… And may we preach mercy to our own hearts, as we learn to receive the kindness of God expressed in the scandal of grace.”
May you be renewed and encouraged as you reach for one or all of these refreshers. I would love to hear about it.
Vice President: Mission Engagement
 Tyson, J. (2018). The burden is light: Liberating your life from the tyranny of performance and success (p. 85). Multnomah.
 Kolber, A. (2020). Try softer: A fresh approach to move us out of anxiety, stress, and survival mode – and into a life of connection and joy (p. 146). Tyndale.
 See Matthew 11:28-30.
 See Tyson, p. 146.