I think for many people, the idea of a vacation tends to be a mirage. Especially type A, driven leaders who are pastors. The idea of a vacation sounds wimpy. Just when you start to talk about taking a vacation, especially as a pastor, you start to ask questions like, “What will people think if I take a vacation? Who will preach for me? Will my church survive if I am away?” While these are stupid questions, there is that little voice in your head that asks them.
As we got Revolution off the ground, it was non-stop and has been non-stop for the last 18 months. In that 18 month time span, I have had 5 weeks off from preaching until this month. That is not enough for the sustainability of me or the church.
Recently, Katie and I read through Leading on Empty together which led to many really good, challenging conversations about our schedules, pace and what was sustainable. While there are seasons in life that are busier than others, one of the main questions you need to ask is, “Is this sustainable?” We began to see that life was moving too quickly and it was affecting sleep, our relationship, how we related to our kids and ultimately how I worked.
The main reason that pastors step out of ministry is burnout. Most people don’t know this, but when you start out as a pastor, you have about a 5 – 10% of retiring as a pastor. In fact, 85% of pastors quit being pastors after the first 5 years. The reason? Burnout.
As I’ve talked with other pastors, they constantly say pace, balance and having regular rest and vacation are reasons they are still in ministry.
I think for many of us, we are so good at continuing to keep moving, staying busy because if we stop, we aren’t sure what we would do.
Katie and I started to ask questions like: what refreshes us? Why am I having trouble sleeping? Am I stopping enough? What re-energizes me? If we have the same schedule and pace in 6 months, will that be a good or a bad thing?
There was a great article that I came across by C.J. Mahaney about how to maximize vacation. One of the problems with vacation is many people come back from it and say, “Now, I need a vacation” because they didn’t maximize their time away. One of the things he points out is that careful planning leads to a great vacation, along with the fact that the Dad drives the attitude and the feeling of the vacation.
Along with C.J.’s article, I came across a lot of other blogs and articles about the topics of rest and leadership: Killing ourselves in Jesus’ name by Scott Thomas and The sabbath was made for man by Catalyst.
Take the time, do some research, figure out what makes you rest, how you relax and then do it.