Give Me a Break

Posted by Lori

People in ministry seem notorious for not giving themselves a break. A little down time. An opportunity to unplug. And … it is showing.

Thanks to Sarah I read this article from the NY Times that came out over the weekend. You should read the whole thing, but here is something interesting:

The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.

… A growing number of health care experts and religious leaders have settled on one simple remedy that has long been a touchy subject with many clerics: taking more time off.

A Sabbath is hugely important. We all know that. We’ve even heard our husbands or pastors preach on it many times. But still we often cheat on those sabbath days and answer emails, make phone calls, sneak a little work in … or a lot. Until, that day doesn’t look much like a Sabbath day at all.

Jud’s day off is Friday. It works for him because he has finished up the message by then and the rest of the staff is off that day as well. When the kids are in school, we have ourselves a wonderful little date day. It is great. No work. No pulls. Well, not if we can manage it. 🙂 Since we do church on Saturday and Sunday, it is necessary for us to really break that Friday.

A sabbatical or vacation is very important too. We are on our break right now. We get a three week vacation, and Jud gets a three week study break that we are asked by the elders to take back to back during the summer. When we first got to Central, that seemed like so much time. It almost seemed crazy. Then we finished up that first year, and we practically crawled into our summer break. Now I see that for us, it is vital. We need that time to rest and rejuvenate. We need concentrated time with the kids as a family. We need that time with the Lord. We need that time to get our compassion quotient back up to where it needs to be. And we need that time to let God reframe our perspective.

Even being incredibly intentional about taking breaks, still the stress and pressure sometimes seems too much. So, I can’t even imagine what it would be like if we never pulled the plug.

So, I want to encourage you, if you don’t take one day a week off … really take it off, please do!

And if you have vacation days, please use them … even if it is a close the blinds stay-cation at your house.

What is your day off? And how does it look for you? Do you get a vacation? Do you take it?

14 thoughts on “Give Me a Break

  1. Robin Mitchell

    We take Fridays as well, and while I love our summer with the kids I am looking forward to having our date day back. We are just coming off of our first 30 day sabbatical. It was such a great time for us as a family, and we are anxious to be back.

  2. Michelle Wegner

    In our past 18yrs of ministry,we’ve been pretty religious about taking a day off a week, then quarterly taking at least a long weekend, then every 6 months or so taking a full week or 2 off. Our first year of marriage we didn’t do it, and really suffered for it. Great words of wisdom here Lori!

  3. Tiffany

    Our family just came back from vacation. It was so needed. We enjoyed ourselves and just spent time with our family. Dan and I will be taking another vacation with just the two of us to celebrate our 6 years of marriage together in October. These moments away are so important for bonding, and connectedness…..especially when we are so busy serving others with everything we have. Great post Lori!

  4. DisneyCyndi

    I am literally forcing Marc to take some time off in the next few weeks because I know if he doesn’t he will burn out and fast!

    Thankfully we did start taking some time off each week just to hang out together. But having just come back from the cruise I know how important an actually time of vacation is. Even of you just chill somewhere local for a few days its worth it. And it doesn’t have to be pricey. How many places to we each have locally in our area that we never check out?

  5. Lori Wilhite Post author

    That’s awesome Robin. I’m sure it was really great for your family. And … yes, I love my kids and summer too, but will be glad to reclaim date day. 🙂

  6. Lori Wilhite Post author

    I like this plan that you guys have going Michelle! Getting a plan together helps keep it from going last on the list! 🙂

  7. Lori Wilhite Post author

    So glad you had fun in San Diego! It is one of our ultra-favortie places.

  8. Dawn-Marie

    What a great topic! I remember early on in ministry we finally got away for a vacation, and then cut our vacation short because a family at church was dealing with a tragedy. It seemed like a very good and noble thing to do. We quickly learnt, however, that in ministry there are always “good and noble” reasons to not take a break … which ends up being counter productive in the long run.

    We take about 2 weeks off during the year, plus a few shorter get-aways quarterly. But what we find very refreshing is to also “get away” in little ways in how we live our day to day lives (date lunches, family beach day, laughing about silly things 🙂 etc.)

  9. Julianne B.

    Such a good post Lori. Kevin used to have Friday’s off before heading into the weekend, but now has Monday’s off. It is pretty quiet in the office on Friday’s so he says it is more productive. When the kids are back in school we try to schedule late breakfast dates on Monday. Our leadership requires that all full time ministerial staff take one weekend a month off. It is wonderful. Sometimes we stay in town and go to the latest service possible and sometimes we head back to our home of 17 years which is just 2 hours away.

  10. Netta

    Thanks for talking about this subject. Sometimes Christian ladies think they’re more spiritual if they’re super busy & they love to talk about it! Crazy.

    Chilly has Mondays off & we and the kids try to leave the house & do something together each week. (Kids are homeschooled). Leaving forces us away from computers & other distractions.

    Over the years we’ve had memberships to various museums, the zoo, etc… so that we’d have “free” stuff to do each week. Sometimes we just go to the park to play (or sled in the winter) and then out to dinner. It keeps us all connected, laughing and making memories together.

    Each year we take 2-3 weeks for vacation away from home, too! That’s priceless! (I sound like a credit card commercial… hee hee)

    Thanks for your words, Lori. Always SO good.

  11. Lori Wilhite Post author

    We’ve cut our vacation short and time or two also. Completely agree .. not the best idea!

  12. Lori Wilhite Post author

    Your Mondays sound like very special times for your family, Netta! I love it! 🙂

  13. Julie Trevino

    Unplug: is definately a word in my vocabulary. We have family staycation days or mini road trips throughout the year. On top of vacation time. We make it a point to have time just the two of us and just the four of us. When people are a big part of your life I think it is important to have just us time. Those moments are the best!

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