As a pastor, you go where you’re needed—counseling a couple on the brink of divorce, the side of a hospital bed or presiding over an unexpected funeral. But there’s another place you’re needed. And if you’re being completely honest with yourself, you might be avoiding it. Pastors need to take vacations.
There’s always a reason not to take a vacation. You may be planning around your children’s schedules, in addition to the many duties of your ministry. The truth is there’s no way to take time off without missing something. However, taking that vacation will help you be more effective in your ministry. Here’s why:
It’s Something You Can Control
Taking control of your wellness can help you prevent and combat burnout and isolation. Much of life in ministry is outside your control, so by carving out time to rest, recharge and connect with your family, you can set yourself up for a healthier outlook for your career.
You’re on Call 24/7
Sometimes you have to drop everything to deal with a crisis. It isn’t always easy to cancel your plans or rearrange your entire schedule, but if it has to happen that’s what you do. This constant availability can add another layer of stress to an already demanding job. The truth is that even going bowling can turn into work (depending on who you find in the other lanes). This means you need your vacation even more than other professionals.
It’s a Chance to Add Clarity to Your Congregation’s Policies
If your congregation doesn’t have a clear vacation policy, that’s not only a pastoral care issues, it’s a Human Resources issue. A clear policy ensures that everyone knows what to expect and you can have your needs met. It affects all the other employees of the church, too. If you are not comfortable bringing up this issue, consider asking the Circuit Visitor to address the matter with congregational leaders.
Pastor Burnout Is More Common than You Might Think
According a recent study by the LCMS, almost one third of church workers say that the constant busyness of their life has a negative impact on their relationship with God. Take time for yourself and help prevent burnout before it rears its ugly head in your daily life.
Your Family Deserves It
There’s nothing like going on vacation with your family for bonding and making memories. The challenge of balancing the needs of your ministry career and the needs of your family isn’t going to go away. If anything, it gets harder over time and the habits you cultivate tend to stay with you over the years. So, if regular vacations are not a part of how you live your life, it is going to feel infinitely harder to start going.
The good news is that most people will applaud you for going on vacation. Many pastors feel guilty for finally announcing their plans to go on vacation only to hear, “Good! You need it. Make sure you turn your phone off.”
If you’re concerned about the church workers in your congregation, consider setting up a Congregational Church Worker Wellness Team. This approach helps all the church workers ensure their needs are met.