Can Vacations for Pastors Stifle Ministry?

Pastor VacationsI’m reading David Platt’s book, Radical, along with the guys in my two men’s groups.

I just returned from a vacation to the beach.

And, I’m feeling conflicted about the effects of my vacation on my spiritual and ministry life.

A pastor I served under at two churches captured the biblical concept of rest in this phrase: Divert daily, Withdraw weekly, Abandon Annually. I believe God wants us to periodically rest. That means He endorses vacations.

But after being in a ‘beach’ environment for a week, I realize how self-indulging a vacation can become. For many, a vacation becomes a time to eat too much, drink too much, spend too much, and generally indulge too much.

Don’t get me wrong. I do love the beach, the sun (I’m from Chicago), the great seafood, and the break from pastoral leadership demands. But I’m wondering if I need to re-frame my future vacations, especially as I’m reading Platt’s book.

This quote in chapter 1 struck me.

I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.

So, as I contrast a vacation to spiritual commitment, I’m wrestling with how to make the two biblical concepts compatible so that my vacations lead me to greater commitment to Christ and to more effective ministry.

I’d love to hear what you think.

Related post: 8 Point Checklist for Pastoral Body Care

1 thought on “Can Vacations for Pastors Stifle Ministry?”

  1. An interesting question. Is it different for pastors than for their flock? What would count as abandoning ourselves? Are vacation time and rest time a parallel concept? Do you need both at the same time? If a person needs quiet time to reflect and calm, would mixing with others affect one’s ability to do that? I once went on a church-related mission trip to South America, which was a vacation time – and we worked hard, but it was a good rest at the same time. But in over eight years of these trips, none of the pastors have gone. So I go back to my original question, is it different for pastors than for their flock?

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