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How To Live Like Jesus – Take A Vacation
Summer is upon us and for most congregations it’s a very busy time. There are BBQs, Holiday celebrations, weddings, carnivals, and of course the regular weekly sermon. It can be hectic to say the least. I’m a leader, myself, of one of the country’s largest steel building companies, so I’m well aware of the accelerated pace of activity that happens between May and September.
This year, in fact, is particularly busy for me. My steel building company is growing, I’m building a new home, I’m involved in several new professional organizations. The easiest solution would be to skip vacation all together, but for a leader – whether a business leader like myself or a pastor like you – that’s unacceptable, and there are three reasons why.
You Need It
I have friends who are pastors and I’ve learned what the weekly schedule and pressures of ministry is like.
It’s a calling that comes with serious pressure. You have two Sundays in your week – the Sunday you’re preparing for and the one you’re getting over. For a pastor, a trip to the bank can quickly turn into an hour long counseling session with someone from your congregation you run in to in the parking lot.
As a leader, it’s critical that you recharge your batteries. If you don’t, you’ll quickly break and so will your organization. Head out of town. I recommend, given your schedule, that you plan on returning late on a Sunday night so you don’t even have the opportunity to think about that day of prayer.
Mark 6:30-32 says “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
Jesus knew the hard work of the apostles, he knew they’d need to be recharged, so he told them to head out for a while, put their feet up, and relax – recharge.
Your Family Needs It
You have a congregation to care for, sure, but you also have a family that needs you. There are many times when you are woken in the middle of the night because of a tragedy, because of a crisis, because of an emergency.
You spend so many nights counseling the flock, teaching classes, ministering to those who are home-bound. Let’s face it, your job is a 24 hour position!
Perhaps your family understands your ministerial duties and quietly accepts it as work product. But they need your time – time which is just theirs. This is why a vacation is critical. Turn off your phone, don’t check your emails, play ball with your son – have a dance contest with your daughter – spend a romantic evening with your wife.
Recharge your family with some time when you can focus on your first flock – the people with whom you share your home.
1 Timothy 5:8 says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
When Paul wrote these words he made it clear that family unity was essential for building a strong church.
Your Church Needs It
I know when I’m overworked or exhausted there’s no joy in what I do. You can only share your joy when you have enough in your reserves to give, and frankly, part of your job description is to share joy. This means you have to retreat and relax.
My grandmother used to say, “Don’t overwork your pastor or your doctor.” The Bible says in Genesis that on the 7th day, the Lord rested. I think it’s clear that God wants you to have a break.
Regardless of your Godly calling, I hate to break it to you, you’re still human. You’re susceptible to things like irritation, lack of interest, even resentment. These things are more likely if you’re tired. Your congregation doesn’t need that. It’s not fair to them. If you want to be an effective spiritual leader, you must be spiritually available – and you must be rested.
Although Christ never took a break from being Christ, he did take time to get away to visit friends, like Mary, Martha and Lazarus. (Luke 10:38-42) or get away from the crowds (Matthew 14:22, Mark 6:45).
You never really take a break from being a pastor, just as I never really take a break from being the CEO of a Steel Building Company, but, sometimes we all need to some time away.
Basically, what I’m telling you is, to be an effective leader, and even to be Christ-like, you need a vacation! So what are you waiting for?Photo courtesy: Kevin Dooley, Chris Combe, Erin Vest
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