Summer is quickly approaching. If your calendar is anything like mine you already know where most of the summer is going to go. Between my kids’ sports, Vacation Bible School, weddings, camps, reunions and life in general I pretty much know where I’m going to be and what I’m going to be doing from now to well past when my kids go back to school in the fall.
This year though I’ve had a unique problem. I have had more competition this year, more than any other year, in scheduling vacation time.
The easiest solution would be to skip vacation this year. That is actually what most Americans do. But for a pastor, that is unacceptable, and there three reasons why.
You need it
Only those within the pastoral ministry can begin to understand what the weekly schedule and pressures of ministry is like.
Pastoral ministry is an incredible calling that comes with tremendous pressure. You have two Sundays in your week; the one you’re getting ready for and the one you’re getting over. Very few callings can turn a quick trip to the grocery into an hour-long counseling session in the produce aisle. You are under tremendous pressure, and if you don’t take a vacation to release that pressure you’re going to break—and so will your church.
You need a vacation. You need to turn off your phone, not look at email, and stop checking Facebook and Twitter. You need to schedule your vacation so you get back into town late Sunday night that way you’re not thinking about what you’re going to preach on the whole time you are away. You need time to remember what it means to be you.
Hebrews 13:7 says that you should pastor with joy and not grief. Your vacation carves out the time necessary to cultivate the joy you need.
Your family needs it
As a pastor now and growing up as a pastor’s kid, I know what those emergency phone calls from back home can do to a vacation. I know first hand what it’s like to be having a great time without a care in the world when all of a sudden a call comes in that changes everything. The vacation may not have to end but the atmosphere surely changes. Your kids need to know in the depth of their being that they are more important to you than the congregation.
The greater win for your pastoral ministry is building a legacy of faith in your kids. They don’t need you to be important in the denomination and the church. They don’t need your notoriety. They need you to be important in their lives. Your wife and your kids need a distraction free you.
Your family needs you to take your vacation.
Your church needs it
Again Hebrews 13 tells us that joy in a pastor’s life is a profit to the church. Pastor, if you want your church to grow spiritually as well as numerically you must cultivate joy in your life. Your church needs you to take your vacation to cultivate joy.
During a recent hospital visit, a sweet godly lady shared with me “You can’t overwork your pastor or your doctor. It does you no good.” Here was as spiritual giant, a woman who has walked deeply with the Lord through suffering and joy. She understood something so simple yet profound. Her pastor needed a vacation for her benefit.
Your church needs you to take time off. She needs you to practice weekly Sabbath and annual vacations. I am amazed at churches that require pastors to pay from their own pocket pulpit supply while they are on vacation. As well as those churches that grant a minimum time away for rest. Then I look at their ministry, their effectiveness for the Kingdom, the anger and spirit of dissention within the church, and wonder if there is a correlation between their worn out pastor and their worn out fellowship.
Pastor, if your church doesn’t offer and protect your vacation time, then they are hurting your family—and you.
Take your vacation. You need it. Your family needs it. Your church needs it.