Take your day off. This can be hard to do after Easter. There are people to follow up with, new believers to disciple, people who need to get connected on a serving team or in community. There is a lot to do. You also have volunteers who are tired and sometimes, because you are so tired (and your spouse is tired) you are both on edge and not being at home helps to keep the peace and is easier on things. Don’t fall for that trap. Deal with the issues that come up at home, deal with the heart issues of delegating things. Know that you have all the time you need to accomplish all you want to accomplish. Notice I didn’t say, “all you need to accomplish.” You have time for your day off and accomplishing everything else, you just need to plan better.
Plan your vacation well. You should be taking some time off this summer and when you do, don’t make the mistake of just showing up for vacation and hoping you relax. You need to plan it. How much relaxing are you going to do? I would challenge you to not take phone calls, look at emails, twitter, instagram or facebook. When we go on vacation I hand my phone to Katie, she changes all my passwords for email and social media and then we leave. It is great. I am able to engage with my family fully. Also, what are you going to read on vacation? I’ve said before that pastors need to read more fiction to let their brains take a break. Last year I read all of Daniel Silva’s books and this year I’m working through a series by Vince Flynn.
Be prepared for your vacation. I usually try to take a retreat overnight before vacation. For this reason, I find that the first 2-3 days of vacation and my summer preaching break I am on edge, I have a hard time letting go of ministry, what has happened and engaging with my family. I try to get away for a night, spend time in silence, reading my bible, journaling through the past year, confessing sin, listening to the Holy Spirit about my heart. This is a time that is not sermon or vision focused, it is about my heart. By doing this, I am able to let go of many things that have weighed me down so I can engage with my family and truly rest in the summer.
Spend time with friends or doing something you enjoy. Because of how busy the spring is for ministry, activities, and dealing with sickness, you have probably not spent a lot of time with friends or done the activities you enjoy. Maybe it has been too cold to get outside where you live and you feel it. Take some time for this. Call up those friends and make dinner plans. Set time aside for a hike, gardening, a bike ride or whatever you love that you haven’t been doing.
One of the reasons many people burn out is we don’t think through or work hard at rest and recharging. I think it takes more work to rest than it does to do anything else. We have to focus on it, engage it and let go of other things for it to happen. Rest, recharging, will not just happen. We will not just stumble into it. If you are a pastor, the fall that is coming up is too important for you to limp into it because you failed to make the most of your summer. Don’t make that mistake.
I don’t normally read novels but I’m always on the lookout for a good one. I came across Daniel Silva this summer and was grabbed immediately. He has a series that centers around an Israeli Spy named Gabriel Allon, who also happens to be the world best art restorer.
What was fascinating about this series was how he wove so much real history and events into the books. Love it.
If you are looking for a great novel series to read, check this one out. Here are the books in order:
I love books. This isn’t a secret if you’ve been around my blog for a long time. You can see what I’ve read recently here and read my book reviews here. When I meet other leaders and pastors, at some point what they are reading comes up. I get some funny looks from some guys about what I read, as I don’t always read books written by Christians or books from my theological stream. Which made me think about how many leaders limit themselves in their reading, much to their detriment.
So, here are 8 ways to know if you are limiting your reading.
Every book you read is from your camp. There are a lot of crazy theological ideas out there, so you need to be wise about what you read. But the reality is though, you don’t know everything and you certainly don’t have the bible and every theological idea all figured out. I don’t either. It is good to read authors who believe differently than you so that you can be challenged. I disagree on almost every theological point with Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, but their writings have forced me to ask good theological questions and made me stronger for it. Now a short note, if you are new in your faith, this isn’t a good idea as you don’t have the foundation to question yet. If that’s you, ask your pastor or a respected Christian for some book recommendations.
Every book you read has bible verses in them. You should read some books by authors and leaders who don’t follow Jesus. There are great leadership and living ideas in books that have no bible verses in them. You should read health books by people who think we evolved from monkeys. One of the reasons is to learn how to communicate, but also to see what people who walk through the doors of your church believe.
Every book you read confirms what you already believe. This is similar to the first one, but if you put a book down and are not challenged in your faith or leadership, you wasted your time.
You finish every book you start. I get asked a lot why I don’t write negative book reviews. Every book you review you say that you like is what I’ve been told. The reason? If I don’t like a book by p. 40, I put it down. Life is too short to read a book you don’t like or aren’t being challenged by. If it’s poorly written or boring or not challenging, it’s off the list. Don’t feel the need to finish every book you start or to read every chapter of a book, they may not all be relevant.
Books don’t challenge your heart. Similar to point 3, but you should be challenged. You should find ways to improve your preaching, leadership skills or your faith, being a spouse or parent. If not, put it down. If a book does not put the magnifying glass up to your heart and life, it isn’t worth the time.
You never read a novel. I love novels. I love novels about spies or lawyers in particular. Throughout the year, I stop my reading list and pick up a novel. Some of my favorite authors are Dan Brown, Daniel Silva, John Grisham and David Baldacci. Baldacci’s Camel Club series is still one of my favorites. Every pastor should read at least 1 novel a year just to give their brain a break.
Every book you read is for a sermon. You should read books that have no application in a sermon. It also sometimes happens that you are reading a book that you discover something that will work in a sermon, that’s great too. If you are doing a series on marriage, you should be reading a book on money or grace just to keep growing in other areas.
Every book you read is by a pastor. You should read books by CEO’s, bankers, doctors, trainers, money managers, scientists, not just pastors or speakers.
What would you add to the list to know if your reading list is too narrow?