A Vacation for Your Pastor? 10 Reasons Your Church Must Allow It

Says one faith leader, 'I rejoice in taking every minute with my family' — but many don't get this respite or relaxation

I just returned from a delightful two-week vacation with my wife and children. As is our custom, we spent the first part of our time soaking in the warm rays and salt water at Ocean City, Maryland.

I was all smiles as I watched my kids jump in foamy waves and make towers of sand.

For our second act, we enjoyed day trips to some of our favorite places around northeast Pennsylvania, including Knoebels Amusement Resort, Sky Zone Trampoline Park, and my personal favorite — Krispy Kreme. My wife, Heather, said I couldn’t possibly eat three sugary-sweet donuts in a row, but I did.

My local church, where I am a full-time pastor, graciously grants me vacation time every year, and I rejoice to take every minute with my family. But I am always puzzled and grieved when I hear about churches that seem to frown upon vacation time — or pastors who can’t seem to break away from their hectic schedules.

Yes, it’s true that serving the Lord in full-time ministry is one of the greatest blessings a person can enjoy this side of heaven. It is incredibly rewarding to see the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus transform people’s lives from the inside out.

The Bible says pastors are essential to the life and health of the church (Ephesians 4:11-14).

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But full-time ministry is also extremely costly in terms of mental and physical stress. By nature of their office, pastors carry a unique workload that puts a real emotional burden on their hearts and minds. The best pastors really care about their people, their churches, and their communities. They feel the constant weight of wanting to do their best for God and for people.

This means that if pastors want to “go the distance” in ministry, and churches want to see their pastors serve with joy (Hebrews 13:17), it is essential pastors be challenged to take a vacation every calendar year.

Related: Faith Feedback: ‘Must I Go to Church on Vacation?’

Does your church encourage your pastor to take regular breaks from ministry? Consider these 10 reasons why your church should insist that the pastor(s) take some annual vacation time:

1.) Vacation reminds the pastor he is not Superman. He is a human with a body and a soul that need recharging.

2.) Vacation reminds the pastor He is not “everything” to the church. He is not indispensable. Christ is.

3.) Vacation repays the pastor’s wife and children for the tremendous sacrifices they make throughout the year, in regard to his unrelenting schedule and having to be all things to all people. Finally, they get 100 percent of his undivided attention.

4.) Vacation strengthens the pastor’s marriage and keeps him close to his spouse — his greatest ally. He isn’t married to the church, after all; he’s married to her.

5.) Vacation gives the church a great opportunity to hear a different voice and a different preaching style. It’s the same gospel, same Bible — but a fresh perspective.

6.) Vacation helps the church appreciate who and what they have with their present minister.

7.) Vacation helps the church’s other leaders and servants step up and serve in unexpected places. It gives them a chance to grow, learn and shine. They will better appreciate what their pastors tackle on a weekly basis.

Don’t drive your pastor away to another ministry with an unrelenting workload. Give him or her an annual break — you’re more apt to keep that person over the long haul.

8.) Vacation opens the door to up-and-coming preachers and future pastors to preach on Sunday mornings, when church services are typically at max capacity. No classroom or small group setting can compare to preaching on a Sunday morning.

9.) Vacation allows the pastor to sit in another church pew or two and be ministered to himself. He gets to be on the receiving end of someone else’s ministry, which gives him fresh thoughts, perspectives and ideas.

10.) Vacation helps churches keep their pastors for the long haul. You can’t drive a car nonstop for 100,000 miles without routine maintenance, checkups, oil changes, and fresh tires. Don’t drive your pastor away to another ministry with an unrelenting workload. Give him or her an annual break, because you’re more apt to keep that person over the long haul if you do.

Related: Six Reasons We Love Church Signs So Much

My local church is about to enter one of the busiest seasons of the year. As summer draws to a close, many vital discipleship programs that engage families and young people will relaunch for the fall season. Community outreaches are on the calendar, along with small group Bible studies, back-to-church Sunday, and a fresh sermon series, too. It’s a full schedule — for the church and for me.

But now that my body and my spirit have been refreshed and recharged after such a wonderful vacation, I feel invigorated — and I’m excited about engaging in the next chapter of Christian ministry. Can your pastor say the same?

Pastor Ryan Day is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he has served for 19 years. 

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