Monday, October 17, 2016

Time away

You may have noticed that I've not had any postings on this blog for the past couple of weeks. That's because my wife and I enjoyed a two week vacation at Panama City Beach to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. The weather was great; the beach was beautiful, and I had my best friend for the past 50 years by my side. We have been to PCB for the past many years and enjoyed going back to some incredible seafood restaurants, and we even tried a couple of new places.

Our daughter and her children had rented a condo for a couple of months, so we stayed with them. The condo complex was real nice with 13 pools and a putt-putt course that we all enjoyed.

It was a little surreal knowing that while we were enjoying beautiful days on the beach the other side of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina were being pounded by a hurricane. Many of those people lost everything they owned so I hope you are keeping them in your prayers and helping as you are able.

I also hope you have taken time away to refresh yourself this year. The demands of ministry can be rough and take a lot out of a person. In the Scriptures we even see Jesus going off by himself to rest and telling his disciples to do the same. We need to follow his example.

Some churches are a little short-sighted when it comes to time away for the pastor. Many smaller churches want to only give their pastor two weeks vacation a year and think they are doing him or her a favor even though many in the congregation are getting 3-4 weeks paid vacation. In a survey I did a few years ago of bivocational pastors some responded they did not receive any vacation time. One pastor told me he drove a couple in his church three states away so they could visit their son in prison in that state only to be told by the deacons when he returned two days later that those days would be counted against his vacation time.

When I assisted churches in their pastoral search process I always encouraged them to give their pastors four weeks vacation. Some followed my advice, but many did not. Then they wonder why they can't keep a pastor more than a year or two.

Of course, it makes no difference how many weeks vacation the church allows if the pastor does not use them. Pastors, you are short-changing yourselves, your family, and your ministry if you do not go away periodically to refresh and renew your self. Maybe you don't have the money to go to the beach or the mountains, but anyone can afford to take day trips to state parks or interesting communities you've not visited before. The key is to get away from the phone and the pressures of ministry and enjoy yourself and your family. If you'll do that four times a year you'll be surprised how different you'll feel.

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