Having reached the halfway mark to New York in our Bike for Haiti it was perfect timing to have Tonia and her mom drive up to meet me for the weekend in Wilmington, North Carolina two weeks into the ride.
I had made a decision early in my preparation to take every Sunday off during my ride which I had planned to take at least 6-8 weeks. I never expected to finish the ride in 27 days and taking 4 days off.
Basically I felt strongly I needed to take a Sabbath each week. This Friday 4 years ago I actually decided to take two days for the Weekend both Saturday and Sunday since I was so far ahead of schedule and it was the weekend Tonia and my Mother in Law , Yvonne would be with me.
I am so glad I made the decision to not try to ride everyday. I think it would have been a mistake. Those days off gave me much needed time to recuperate not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. It was one of the best decisions I made during the preparation process.
If you are young church planter or pastor I would suggest you make the same decision early in your ministry to take a Sabbath EVERY week. BTW, God took a Sabbath. He commands us to. Now we have good reason our Sabbath wont be Sundays.
I planned to take the days during the Ride. I believe if I had not scheduled them and planned to do it, I probably would not have done so. By planning I was able to plan my weekend. Make preparations for the coming weekend. One weekend I had our support car have maintenance issues. I got to speak at our Mission Church we planted two years prior with Jeremy Higdon , at the Oasis Church of North Florida in Jacksonville. Planning to take the day off allowed the mission church to give me a much needed Massage for my aching body and specifically my shoulder and neck area that had become very painful and tight. That was a gift I was so grateful for. The weekend Tonia came to NC also allowed me to get another and my last massage of the continuing lingering Shoulder and Neck pain which totally went away after that and allowed me to have my longest rides of 100 miles the last week of the ride.
Pastors are notorious for feeling so pressured to work, to serve , to take care of their flock that we tend to neglect ourselves and our families.
PASTORS MUST TAKE A DAY OFF A WEEK. IF YOU DO NOT YOU SHOULD LEAVE MINISTRY RIGHT NOW. YOU WILL BURN OUT AND YOU ARE SINNING BY NOT DOING IT SO LEAVE THE MINISTRY NOW BEFORE YOU BURN OUT AND EVEN JEOPARDIZE YOUR HEALTH AND YOUR FAMILY. THAT IS NOT GODS WILL.
If you are too busy or to needed to take a day off then you need to get out of ministry.
If God took a Sabbath, why do we think we don't need one.
Most churches will allow their pastors to work 7 days a week , take no vacations and always be on call 24/7 if we do it. They aren't going to be trying to get you to slow down. Maybe one or two good souls but most will not. They give us credit enough that we are smart enough to do it. BTW , if you burn out tomorrow or have to quit or drop dead, the church will grieve but then move on to the next pastor and where did it get you?
These are strong words but I think most pastors shorten their tenures in their churches and their own lives by not taking time off.
I don't have the time here to say alot about this, but we also must take vacation time. Our Church Council of lay members in our first year of the church gave our staff a very generous vacation schedule and 9 years ago set up a process for our full time Administrative team to have a paid Sabbatical every five years. I have had two of them and will have my third next year.
Pastors if you will teach your leaders the importance of a weekly sabbatical for themselves and ask them to hold you to it. They will. I believe EVERY pastor needs to also teach their leaders the importance of taking Sabbaticals. I don't have the space or time here to deal with this but I believe this is one of the biggest mistakes Pastors and churches make in not feeling like they can afford their pastor being gone for extended time. If you are teaching your people, training, discipling and building leadership in your church then you can do it. When we say we cant take a vacation or have a sabbatical, we are admitting we are not doing our job of equipping the saints and making disciples. Yes I said it.
Young pastors, please begin this now even if you have just planted a church and only have 50 people. Start it now. Teach it now. Practice it now. Its not just good for you , your family and your church but it is Biblical.
This in itself may not guarantee your church will grow or that you will end well after a lifetime of ministry but it will definitely make you a happier, healthier person and also your church and family.
I NEVER apologize for taking my full 5 weeks of vacation after 37 years of ministry. I never apologize for giving our full time staff a weekend off a quarter since they lead 5 live services a weekend. I never apologize for taking a Sabbatical that next year will be 6 months. I believe it makes our church and my ministry stronger and it will yours too. (I dont suggest you ask for 5 weeks after a year in ministry or your new church. We have a graduated vacation and sabbatical plan for the longer a person is in ministry.)
Note: The Reason I had the time to do the 1,500 mile Bike for Haiti and raise $150,000. for Haiti was because I had a 5 month Sabbatical and I only needed one month of it to do the Ride. I had the margin.