By Mickey Mallory … The other day, I was using my cell phone when suddenly, the screen went black. I thought initially something was wrong with my phone. “Oh no, I am out of warranty, what will I do?” But then I remembered that my phone had given me a number of warning readings that my battery was dying and I needed to plug in for a recharge. Unfortunately, I got so busy doing other things that I forgot to plug in.

Like cell phones, pastors need recharging also. They need to set aside time when they can get away from the stress and pressure of ministry and be refreshed.  If they choose not to do this, they could eventually end up like my cell phone – DEAD!  And while resurrection power is possible, I think God would rather keep pastors alive and see them thrive in ministry.

One thing that recharges me personally as a pastor is taking vacation time. Whether going to the mountains or to the beach, I always come back refreshed and ready to deal with life and ministry again.

Last week, I took some vacation time and received these benefits:

  • Lots of Rest and Relaxation – It felt great to not be in a hurry and to sometimes just do nothing.
  • Reading – I enjoyed some extended time for reading.
  • Meditating – I loved being able to spend extra time reflecting on how good God has been to me and my family.
  • Exercise – A three-hour-long hike in the mountains was such a great de-stressor.
  • Fun with my family – We had great talks in the hot tub. We even played the board game called Life. Unfortunately, my son stole my salary card, and I didn’t have enough “Life Tiles” to win.

Some pastors will look at everything that is dependent on them and feel that they cannot afford to take vacation time. Though the possibility exists, the things they worry about happening while they are gone will most likely never happen.

Take for example, my recent vacation when I took a whole week off. Thank God that while I was gone:

  • Neither my house nor my office collapsed or burned down.
  • I did not lose post-vacation contact with my fellow workers.
  • I did not miss any earth-shaking decisions.

So, while I was tempted to worry about the work that didn’t get done while I was gone, in reality, everything went as well as could be expected in my absence. Big thanks to those who were available to help if needed, but an even bigger thanks to God who watched over everything while I was gone. I believe the main reason He blessed me so much is because He is pro-vacation. As a pastor Himself, He knows how important it is to get away and “rest awhile”. (Mk. 6:31)

In order for your pastor to have peace of mind while on vacation, below are a few things the church can do:

  • Encourage your pastor to take vacation time. Most get at least two weeks a year. This time is meant to be used for a recharge.
  • Make sure the pastor’s vacation date(s) is on the church calendar. This way there won’t be anything on those days that is solely dependent on the pastor.
  • Make sure the core leadership team of the church knows the pastor’s vacation dates and what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Ask the pastor before they take off on vacation to contact a pastor close to where the church is located to cover in the event of an emergency, like a funeral.
  • Put an announcement in your bulletin/email that communicates to the church members that the pastor is on vacation and who to contact in their absence.
  • Pray for your pastor when they are taking vacation time. Pray that God will protect them and bless them with a great time.

As much as pastors are on the giving end, they also need to be on the receiving end. Vacations are a great opportunity for them to receive a recharge. Trust me, the time they spend away from ministry will help them be even more effective when they return.

The next time you plug your cell phone in, I would like to invite you to think of your pastor and, for that matter, all of the spiritual leaders who serve in the church. Once they are recharged, they will be able to perform great tasks so their Light will shine much brighter.

Mickey Mallory is RMC ministerial director; photo by iStock