Can a Pastor Take a Day Off?
Membership Level› Guest
Author/Source: Trisha Peach
Topic: Leadership, Mistakes, Recruitment
Can a Pastor take a day off? Yes, you CAN get a day OFF. And it can be Amazing!
1. First of all, you have to believe that it IS possible to take a day off. Too many ministers and leaders and parents have given into the lie of our American culture that it is not possible or wise to take a day off. The lie says, “You MUST be a GOOD worker, and a GOOD parent, and to be a GOOD worker and a GOOD parent you must ... (work 80 hours, take the kids to soccer, hockey, ballet, karate, speech meets, playdates, etc., etc., etc. ). What we really need to do is separate our American culture from what Scripture actually says. We really do not need to work that many hours. We do not need to please that many people. We do not need to have our children in that many activities. It’s time to kill the martyr complex. If you absolutely cannot find one day to take off for yourself, than some activities will have to be cut. If some people are disappointed, than that is OK. You are not on earth to please everyone. You are on earth to glorify God and to please Him. God tells us to take one day in seven to rest; therefore it IS possible to do it. If we feel we cannot take one day in seven to rest, we are doing too much to please other humans instead of God. If pastors of massive churches have found ways to be faithful in resting before God, you can too. With a husband, five services a week, two small children, traveling, five employees, an intern, a more than full-time schedule and a partridge in a pear tree, I have made a way to have a day off almost every week (emergencies do happen), but it was WORK to make that happen. But first, I had to believe it was the right thing to do, and that it was possible to have a day off every week. For parents, I used to think I couldn’t ever have a day or even an evening to myself. I told a friend, “I cannot afford a sitter right now.” She said, “Will someone watch your children for free so you can have a day off?” I said, “No one would ever do that.” She said simply, “Have you ever asked?” I was stunned to silence. I did start asking and very soon a kind lady from our church said yes. And I finally had “time off” each week.
2. You are going to have to plan and work toward having your day off with the same creativity as any other event on your calendar. Did you just yell unfair? That may well be unfair. But if you do not work to plan and protect your day off, other things will creep in and steal it away. What do I mean by plan and protect your day off? I do not schedule anything on my day off. Not dentist visits or doctors check ups. Not teacher meetings. If people from church ask to meet that day, I respond, “I cannot, because I have something scheduled that day. How about the day after?” I do not say, “That’s my day off,” because people are shockingly flippant about days off, saying “Oh, then I’ll just come by your house and we can meet there!” I will deliberately plan to be out of town in a state park on my day off where there is no cell signal. You are NOT powerless as far as your schedule goes; you have more control than you think. When someone says, “We are doing _________ on (your day off),” many times you CAN say, “No, I can’t that day, I have a commitment, how about __________?” It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. And what if it is your senior leader or someone on your staff who regularly disrespects your day off? You may have trained this person that your day off didn’t matter. And you can retrain them that now your day off DOES matter. It takes time and patience and good communication. “I would rather not do our outreach debrief on our day off if at all possible. I had planned to take my family to the zoo that day. We could all use a day of break after that big weekend. Could we all meet ____________?” Be respectful, but start making a case that your time OFF must be time OFF. If your senior leader does not honor their own time off, they probably will not honor yours either. But YOU need to keep working toward a day of rest for the sake of your relationship with God, your spouse and your family anyway. Put your days off on the calendar at home and at church and protect them at all costs. Put your out of office reply on and let your voicemail pick up. That’s what it is for.
3. Remember your reasons for taking a day of rest. God told us to do so all throughout the Bible. He set the example for us in Scripture. The burnout rates of ministers are high because ministers tend to be the LEAST obedient to God about taking a day off! You are not doing ANYBODY any good if you burn out and leave ministry. Your family needs you. And you get only one chance to make memories with the family God gave you. You will be a better minister if you take a day off once a week. Your relationship with God will be better and closer if you are obedient to Him to rest once a week. “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” We really like to be in charge. But our ministry can dramatically change for the better when we decide to be obedient and rest in Him. Your health depends on learning to rest. You’ll do ministry for the Lord longer on this earth if you learn to take days off! So stop flinging yourself off cliffs and demanding that angels catch you as you crash and fry yourself!
4. Plan activities for your day off that will refill and renew YOU. Do not just hope that your day off will “happen.” You may just end up folding clothes and raking and then wonder why you’re still tired at work the next day. What energizes you? What makes you feel new again? It is not the same for all of us. For introverts, it is usually time alone, away from it all. If that’s you, maybe you should schedule some hiking time for yourself, or time on a secluded beach, a nap with all phones and lights off etc. Extroverts, like myself, get energy from being around people! I refill from going to a movie (phone off) or the mall with friends or the zoo with my family. I do not like staying around my house because 9 times out of 10 I end up doing housework or someone from church finds me with a minor crisis. No matter what it is, find out what refuels you, and then schedule THAT on your day off—NOT things for work, or housework, or school work- nothing that DRAINS you. I know this is difficult. It is a discipline but it is worth it.
I know how difficult it is to get a day off, and sometimes life happens, so it just might not work out. But that should be the exception, not the rule. I just wanna encourage you today and give you hope that you and your family are WORTH having that day off every week. It’s biblical and it’s what’s best for you, your family, your staff, and your church and ministry! Taking a break is a lot of work, so let’s get to it!