Ah, the lazy days of summer are finally here. They evoke images of spending time away from home and the church, visiting family and friends who live far way, going somewhere exotic or full of history, even of working around the house, finally fixing what is broken or finishing a project in the yard that had been put off for far too long.
This summer is different though. Travel is restricted, lakes are not always the safest places to go, campgrounds and cottages are booked solid, many venues are closed or may require so much caution that they are unappealing, and staying home as vacation is not a change of pace when everyone has been together for the last four plus months, even when the repair list is staring at you! Why, then should you take your full allotment of vacation? There is no place to go, nothing to do!
In the words of Robert Nickerson, pastor at Glenelg Centre Baptist Church, Priceville, “Satan does not take a holiday!” And he doesn’t want us to take a holiday either, because he knows that tired pastors are not as effective and burn out quicker! That is why it is essential to take time to recharge, leaving our work of ministry behind for a time to recharge for a new season. Taking time to rest is vital to a flourishing ministry.
I asked a few of your colleagues how they approached vacation. Jim and Tracey Bagley of First Baptist Church, Kingsville, have had a trailer by a lake for years. In their words, “We take most of our vacations there and reconnected with family. We have found it a great blessing to be able to get out of town for three to four weeks of the summer and experience the rhythm of rest that this has given us.”
Abby Davidson of Blythwood Road Baptist Church, Toronto, wrote, “Taking a vacation from ministry is an act of obedience in which I am nourished physically, mentally and spiritually. It is important to have daily, weekly and yearly rhythms of sabbath. Vacation allows me to step out of my regular context so I can see things from a different perspective. It’s also important to have that intensive time to spend time with my family.”
Robert Nickerson says, “I love a combination of ‘new’ adventures with quiet times outside (ideally by the water). Being creative and adapting in the moment can turn ordinary moments extraordinary.” Indeed, simple day trips to new or favourite places can do the trick.
For Brian Horrobin, pastor of First Baptist Church, Wallaceburg, reading that has nothing to do with church work is a good way to disconnect on vacation. “I am not a fiction guy, so my books are primarily good Christian literature or sports magazines.”
All agree that preparation is important to have a good vacation. All urgent and important work should be completed, what immediately comes after vacation should be prepared, emergency numbers been given to the Board, people made aware of the vacation dates, and if going away, someone is designated to look after the house. Preparation ensures that one’s mind is free and able to relax.
Brian adds, “If possible, I try to start a vacation a day or so after my last day in the office and return a day or so before my first day back. This helps me to detoxify before the vacation and re-enter the atmosphere prepared when I get back.”
Robert captures well the successful vacation: “Plenty of time for rest combined with some key memorable times.”
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to disconnect for while. If your plans are not made yet, now is the time to make them. Your health and the vitality of your ministry depends on it!