Why Being Away Helps Being There: A Perspective on Pastoral Vacations

vacation-circled-on-calendar-jpg I’m typing a blog post about vacations—while on vacation.  Some may (rightly) ask, “If you’re on vacation, then why don’t you vacate for a while, even from blogging.”

Honestly, this is a form of vacation for me.  Let me explain.

I go through ‘spurt blogging.’  Seasons exist in pastoral ministry that provide more opportunity for blogging and reflection of all things church and culture.  On the flip side, seasons exist that do not provide that opportunity due to the busyness of ministry, or even the dryness of ideas.

Sometimes, I just don’t feel like blogging.

And honestly, that concerns me.

When I’m not blogging, then I’ve gotten too locked in in certain aspects.  Locked in on good things, for sure.  But locked in to one aspect of my calling to such a degree that I do not nor cannot reflect on other aspects of my calling.

My calling comes in three fronts:  calling to my own personal heart and relationship with Christ, calling to my family, and calling to the church where God has placed me.  Under the latter, we have the calling of preaching, pastoral care, leadership development, discipleship and counseling, and (less frequently) funerals and weddings—among other things.

Is it possible to lock in to church issues to the exclusion of my personal walk or discipling my family?  Yes.  Can I spend so much time on my personal walk that I often don’t pour in to what I should with family and church?

You get the pattern.  It’s a tension—a tension that, as Andy Stanley says, “must not be resolved, but leveraged.”

Enter vacations.  (“Vacations!  You lazy pastor you!  A man truly called of God should never take vacations.”)  Interestingly enough, as facetious as that sounds, many writers of days gone by have looked down on the idea of vacations and recreation (I’m looking at you, Charles Bridges).

Why are vacations and recreation important?

  1. You can take a step back and get into the quiet with Christ.
  2. You spend time with your family for a time without a meeting or sermon prep.
  3. You remind yourself that the church will get along without you for a week—especially if you have capable assistant pastors on board (I’m looking at you, Pastor Adam and Pastor Scott). 
  4. You get a much-needed extended Sabbath rest and so recharge your batteries. 

Pastors need to be on their game, or they will suffer in their three areas of their calling.

So, as far as vacations are concerned, being away from my people for a small season will help me be there for an extended season.  And as much as I love my Lord, my family, and my church, that makes the time away worth it.

What think ye?

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