Every summer, Peter and his family borrow a parishioner's lakeside cottage. Two weeks without phones, church bulletins, sermons or counseling appointments. Relief becomes relaxation then renewal as they recover from perennial ministry overload.
Why do pastors need vacation? A high burnout rate is reason enough. Vacations restore perspective, rejuvenate passion and revitalize personal relationships. That adds up to powerful ministry potential on the return home.
In the vise of ministry demands, sometimes we forget that God is God — and we are not. Schedules and needs assume Goliath proportions, as do ministers' burdens to meet those needs. Vacations separate pastors from work, letting them rest while God works, reminding us that everything we do is God's work. He is capable of continuing His church in our absence.
Distance from work creates space to remember our calling: Love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Awakening to rippling water, a bird's call, a spouse's or a child's touch heals wounds we didn't know existed. That healing helps us return to our first love, the God who saved us then called us. Vacations provide time for Christ's love to wash over the sandy shores of our soul, seeping between the grains and refilling us. Then we can love others once again.
Revitalize personal relationships.
Vacations mean focused attention on our families, a primary way they receive our love. Building memories, laughing together and reconnecting with our families create a foundation to build upon the rest of the year. My whole family recalls the "short" canoe trip that took 12 hours, the campfires by the river, the bats in the cabin. We remembered we loved each other and carried that love back into ministry.
After all, isn't that the fuel for ministry? Love. So, please, get away and get back your perspective, passion and personal relationships. Then return, ready to love again.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.