There is no greater privilege in the Christian life than to serve as a spiritual leader within the body of Christ. Unfortunately, we are in the midst of a genuine crisis in the church today. Pastors and other spiritual leaders are leaving vocational ministry faster than we can replace them. This is due primarily to the crippling effects of burnout, a pastoral pathology resulting from a lethal combination of extraordinary job-related stress and woefully inadequate self-care. Most of us know someone experiencing burnout. They might be serving in your church right now, or more than likely, they may have recently left. They may be your friends; they may be part of your own family. So what is the cure? We find clues in the life of the prophet Elijah, in his practices of physical refreshment, spiritual renewal, and vocational realignment. And as you will see, when practiced on a regular basis these renewing rituals or rhythms of grace prove to be life-saving disciplines for spiritual leaders.
In Rhythms of Grace, author David Williams invites us to experience inward renewal by engaging three simple rhythms that are masked by the conflicting tempos of a polyrhythmic world. He draws from a rich array of personal experience and the collective wisdom of many others to remind us of things we have forgotten, and to inspire us to breathe afresh the life-giving grace of God.
Charles J. Conniry, Jr., PhD
vice president and dean, Portland Seminary at George Fox University
author of Soaring in the Spirit: Rediscovering Mystery in the Christian Life
Rhythms of Grace speaks to the exhaustion and burn-out that many (if not most) spiritual leaders experience sooner or later. Williams cites his own story of trying so hard and ending up exhausted, disillusioned, and isolated. Then with the Old Testament prophet Elijah as a model, enormous research on the subject, and his own pastor’s heart, he takes the role of a shepherd to the wounded. He gently leads toward rest, renewal, and ministry realignment. Whether prevention or cure is needed, this is a helpful book for any Christian who feels stressed, overworked, or severely criticized.
former superintendent of Evangelical Friends Church-Southwest, former director of Evangelical Friends Mission
co-author with Neil Anderson of Setting Your Church Free
Self-care is one of the most important—yet most neglected—aspects of a sustainable, enduring pastoral ministry. So often those who dedicate their lives shepherding others toward healing and wholeness seem unsure of how to experience that same shalom in their own lives. Dave Williams’s book is a spiritual roadmap for those who have lost their way. As a pastor of pastors, Dave communicates with a shepherd’s heart as he guides leaders back to the Good Shepherd. Biblically-grounded, theologically astute, and enormously practical—I consider this book a must for any pastor looking to sustain or regain the unforced rhythms of life-giving grace.
Derek Brown, PhD
professor of pastoral ministry, Barclay College
Rhythms of Grace is a deeply personal and practical book. With raw honesty and humble transparency, David Williams offers realistic remedies for the deadly threat of burnout. To the weary, disillusioned, and lonely, I pray that this book will encourage your soul in the profound way that it has refreshed mine.
executive director, Journey Resources
author of Running on Empty and Breaking the Rules
To be human is to live rhythmically. Many of us are living painfully out of sync. It is this eternal call to rhythm that we desperately need to cure us from our ever-present sense of desperation. With Rhythms of Grace, David Williams kindly and persuasively invites us into the life that God has offered—a life of goodness and beauty; a life of rest; a rhythmic life of depth in the whirlwind of shallowness. If your life is out of sync, look no further to find the cadence that your heart has been waiting to hear.
Curt Thompson, M.D.
founding director, Being Known
author of Anatomy of the Soul and The Soul of Shame