You may have noticed a lack of posts on this blog for the past couple of weeks. (At least, I hope you did!) My wife and I spent that time on vacation at Panama City Beach enjoying perfect weather, fresh seafood, and some much needed rest and relaxation. During that time we celebrated our 48th anniversary which made it an even more special vacation. I did absolutely nothing that even resembled work including writing on this blog and posting articles on Twitter. The ones that were on Twitter during our vacation were scheduled in advance a week before we left for our vacation.
Early in my ministry we seldom took such vacations. Part of it was due to finances, but much of it was due to my just not wanting to get away that long. For some reason I guess I believed that if I was away bad things would happen. Talk about arrogance! I guess I just didn't think God could do it if I wasn't there.
Looking back I believe that my not taking time away was one of the contributing factors that led to my bout with clinical depression in the mid-1980s. We are not the Energizer Bunny. We are not made to keep going and going. We need time to get away from the regular activities of our lives to refresh ourselves, and if we are not willing to do that for ourselves our bodies and emotions will eventually shut themselves down in order to protect us from ourselves.
Unfortunately, I meet too many pastors who continue to think as I did. One friend of mine has struggled with what I believe to be depression for several years. He has served his church for years and has enjoyed a very productive ministry, but it is obviously taking a toll on him. He never takes all the vacation his church provides for him. I've urged him to take a sabbatical, and leaders in his church have told me they have offered him one, but he refuses. I worry about him and his family.
Other pastors show me their schedules and brag about how full they are as if their overbooked schedules are a badge of honor. I ask them what happens if an emergency occurs? How will you fit that into your full schedule? They just look at me not understanding that it is only a matter of time before something occurs that isn't scheduled in their neat, tidy little Day Planner.
When I first actually began taking real vacations it would take me two or three days before I could relax enough to enjoy it. Two days later we would return home. Obviously, something needed to change! For the past few years we've been taking 10-12 day vacations which provides much more time to relax. I've also purposely slowed things down as much as possible a few days before leaving for vacation to make it easier to relax. Now, when I arrive at the beach I can sit back in my chair and just enjoy the sand and the sea. I'm relaxed from Day One.
This year some of our grandchildren were at the beach as well which made this vacation a little different than previous ones. The older ones wanted to try the old man in a game of pool in the common room until they learned that the old man had spent many hours of his misspent youth in pool rooms. They weren't any happier after a few games of ping pong either. They were happier after convincing me to try my hand at Paddleboarding in the ocean. I only fell off the board three times before finding my balance, but I also refused to go out from the shore as far as they did.
One of these days I'll be gone, and no one will talk about the church committee meetings I attended and the wonderful prayer I gave at the Women's Mission Circle banquet. However, my grandchildren will probably talk about the week they spent at the beach with their Papaw, and my wife will remember how we celebrated our 48th anniversary sitting on the beach, holding hands, and watching the ocean waves. Rest, relaxation, and the making of memories.
How did you spend your vacation?