My family and I just returned from vacation in South Florida. We had a wonderful time. Lots of relaxation, fun, and making memories together.
The importance of time away can not be emphasized enough. Everyone needs rest. Everyone needs to relax. Everyone needs to step away to a change of pace from time to time.
I love what I do. I love being a pastor. It charges me and challenges me and is full of purpose and meaning. That doesn’t mean it is perfect and always fun. There are definitely moments of stress and issues that must be faced. At times, there is even pain involved. Not seeking pity at all, just setting context. In spite of the joy and satisfaction that I receive from what I do, I still need to step back for proper perspective. I guard my days off and try to make sure that family time is uninterrupted and without distraction. I take vacations. My family and I enjoy getting away and doing things together.
There was a time when I considered it a badge of honor to go weeks without a day off. I found pride in not using all my vacation days as a youth pastor. I was very misguided. I fell into the trap that so many others do. The trap tricks us into thinking that dedication and resolve to the calling mean working every waking moment in “the ministry.” Statements like, “the world is dying, I don’t have time for ________,” or, “people need Jesus more than I need _______,” all sound very noble and have a certain appeal to them. But, it’s a lie.
Even Jesus stepped back and took time away. He took a Sabbath. He even left the area where He ministered and went someplace where He wasn’t as well known so He could relax. He is our example.
The truth is simple, if we don’t take time off and keep our minds, bodies, and emotions healthy we will end up doing more harm than good for the Kingdom of God. There are countless documented cases of men and women burning out and making atrocious decisions because they didn’t. I was almost one of those.
Several years ago, my wife and I were at the end. Both of us were ready to walk out on the other, on our family, on our ministry. The root cause was my messed up priorities. I wasn’t taking the proper time to get away. I was a work-a-holic and found pride in that fact. It almost cost me everything. The reasoning sounded right and noble. The truth was dark and painful.
We all need time away. We all must relax and recharge. We work hard. We give all we are to the calling God has on our life. That means we stay healthy and follow the example of Christ. We learn to play hard and foster healthy, deep relationships with our family and those we are walking this journey with through life.