Just picture it: five days of watching your kids build sandcastles or chase crabs on the beach, exploring new parts of God’s creation, not having to clean up dishes, and falling in love with your spouse in a new and fresh way. Vacations can facilitate all these blessings and more!
Depending on how long one has been involved in Christian ministry, whether bi-vocational or single vocation, most of us have a week or more of vacation time available to us each year. I am always surprised to hear that some leaders do not use their annual vacation time. All Christian leaders need time away to spend with family and friends and to rest.
Here are five reasons that ministry leaders must take a vacation:
1. Because your family needs and deserves time with you: Family members of those in ministry sacrifice in many ways. Pastors are often pulled away from family gatherings due to a church emergency. Many times, birthdays and anniversaries, as well as other important family activities, must be scheduled in a way that is subordinate to the needs of the church calendar. There must be time when those in vocational ministry are able to enjoy undistracted time with their family.
2. Because the church occasionally needs to hear another voice: Churches may grow accustomed to the preaching of their pastor, or even their pastor and staff, and can benefit from occasionally hearing a guest preacher. When a guest preacher says the same thing that the pastor is saying then it strengthens the pastor’s ministry to the congregation. Most pastors have returned from vacation to hear a faithful member say, “I enjoyed Bro so-and-so’s preaching, but I am glad you are back. We missed you.” This is a good thing.
3. Because the church needs to show appreciation for their pastor: Those who lead churches do so because the Lord has called them. Churches love their pastors and need to discover tangible ways to express their love. Setting aside time each year when the pastor can be away without ministry responsibility is one way the church can demonstrate their love and appreciation for their pastor.
4. Because pastors need a fresh perspective: Ministry, even a ministry that is much loved, can become monotonous. Time away can refresh a pastor or ministry leader where he can return and serve with renewed enthusiasm and creativity.
5. Because pastors need a break: While one week, or two or three weeks scattered throughout the year, cannot by itself address the mental, spiritual, and emotional toil of a year of ministry, it can indeed help. Sometimes a week of sleeping a little later, enjoying some good food, and laughing with family and friends can be just what a pastor or ministry leader needs to continue in a faithful ministry.
When I was just getting started as a pastor, before Connie and I had children, I heard Dr. Charles Stanley exhort pastors to save as much money as they could save for an annual vacation with their family.
Having just returned from a weeklong vacation, I can attest to its value personally. For me and my family, the drive was way too long, the food costs too much and the beds were not as comfortable as our own beds at home, but my family laughed together, told stories, slept longer than usual, ate too much junk food, and made memories together that will continue to feed our souls for weeks and months to come.
I encourage every ministry leader to enjoy your vacation and experience how God will refresh you so that you can continue to refresh others.