There are so many reasons the Sabbath is important in the rhythm of life. You weren’t created to think and produce 24 hours a day. You and those you lead need to be reminded that time away is a natural, God-given recipe for a full and faithful life. It’s what keeps you grounded. It helps you remember that God is the one at work. It’s imperative to get it right.
The summer is a great time to be away and to play. Here are a few tips for ministry leaders:
Take all the vacation and days off you can take.
I say this to all the conscientious and hard-working ministry leaders; most I know work way more hours than they should and have such a heart for the church that they don’t think anything of it. Utilize the days off you have and your vacation time to maximize your ministry. Your time away will produce new perspectives, new ideas, and new energy. One key to staying in a ministry role long-term is balanced living in regard to your time away.
Be diligent in planning your Sabbath and/or playtime.
Make sure you know the policies of days off, comp time and vacation time. Use it fully. To plan, make sure you have the calendar in front of you with all available input. It’s best if you can mark off time for play and fun before other smaller things creep in. Make sure you are diligent in planning for your downtime so you can maximize it. Put things down on your calendar in concrete. You may not have all the details of what you will do, but you have an idea and date and that is huge! Part of the benefit of taking time away is anticipating it. If you just wait until you’re fed up and then leave for a couple days, you miss out on the anticipation of the coming break.
Be creative with your free time.
It doesn’t have to cost money. It doesn’t have to be repetitive. It can be near or far. But you need to be creative in how to spend your time away. I have learned that my most productive times of rest and play are when I am geographically removed from my ministry region. Even if it’s just a short day trip or another concrete plan for one day off during the week. I love being at home too, but it’s when we are away I can fully unplug and recharge.
100% at work and 100% at play.
One of the best gifts you can give to your church is 100% while you are there and working in ministry. In the same way, one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and to your family is to be 100% present when you are there with them. The stress of ministry life, unlike almost any other profession, makes this a fine line. But do your best to chart out how you will accomplish what needs to be accomplished and how you will transition to Sabbath and play times. When you have given your all in your ministry role, your being away is welcomed and expected.
The soul of your leadership is at stake.
Not to sound dramatic, but the root of our ministry service and leadership must flow out of a deep relationship with God. It’s times apart and times alone when we can connect more deeply with Jesus. It also might be that those times of rest and play are needed in our lives so that Jesus might connect more deeply with us. The heart of leadership comes through a childlike faith and trust in God. Without strategic times of renewal we will find that we rely on our own strength for all the demands of ministry.
For me personally, summer is a relatively hectic season so we typically try to do something as a family in mid May and in late August. I believe we are most faithful to Jesus and to our ministry calling when we deliberately and carefully practice Sabbath rest and playtime. But to be honest, I’m still learning how to make this aspect of life a priority and I struggle keeping the rhythm at times. So this summer, we are working hard to make sure those times are carefully planned and firmly executed.
So what are your plans for the summer? I would love to hear some of your thoughts.
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