Sunday morning seems to come every single week, doesn’t it? Without fail. And depending on your church’s typical weekly schedule, so does Sunday night, Wednesday night, Tuesday morning Bible study, and the recently popular Saturday night services. On top of that, there’s always a newly engaged couple asking you to perform their wedding ceremony, there are people to visit in the hospital, and unfortunately you have funeral services to perform more often than you’d prefer also. And of course, none of these various activities include any of the normal office hours and meetings that fill your Monday through Friday.
I know, I know…Most of these are unavoidable and just a part of the job of being a pastor. And most likely, they’re even why you got into the ministry. You simply have a heart for loving God and loving others, and that’s what makes you so needed and appreciated by everyone around you.
But does being a pastor mean you are exempt from personal time? Do you have to save up all your vacation time for retirement and/or life in eternity? I certainly hope that’s not what you believe, or even worse—what others in your church seem to believe. Just as I am sure you would encourage any men in your church to make sure and have built-in time each week to relax and have some personal time, I’d like to do the same with you. In fact, I have three specific areas of down time in which I highly encourage you to be intentional about including each week into your schedule.
- Family time: Unfortunately, this needs to be our top reminder. Pastors today are so busy with helping so many families both in and out of their church, that oftentimes their own families become the forgotten ones. Whether it’s during the weekend, a day off midweek, or even just an evening out, make sure you have a regularly scheduled outing (more than one is even better!) outside of the home and—perhaps most important—away from all phones, iPads, Nintendo DS handhelds, and the like. Make this a time that everyone in your family (and eventually many people in your church too) knows they can count on as built in family time to look forward to.
- Shoulder-to-shoulder guy time: This does not mean taking part in a men’s Bible study or a lunch meeting with your elders. Men build relationships with other men and become reenergized themselves in the process, by taking part in shoulder-to-shoulder activities with other men. This could include jogging or biking with a friend, playing basketball at the gym, going fishing or hunting, or playing golf. Even a night out in the “way back” machine and playing video games and laser tag might be just what you need. This does not take the place of Bible studies or accountability groups, but it is its own separate necessity that is far too often ignored and set aside as not high priority. I highly encourage you to rethink that position.
- Personal time: This is going to be different for everyone. It could be jogging or biking by yourself. Maybe swimming or racquetball. Fishing in a boat with just you, a packed lunch, and the hope of tonight’s dinner might be your cup of tea. Tinkering under the hood in your garage could be your dream afternoon. Or maybe it’s reading for a couple of hours at Barnes and Noble while enjoying a six-dollar Frappuccino. But once a week, schedule a specific block of time away from church, away from friends, yes—even way from family, and do something you enjoy on your own. It’s not selfish; it’s called refreshing. And as you already know, you won’t be alone—your heavenly Father will be there with you. And isn’t that what you need more than anything?
Go get these on your schedule now! Tomorrow will bring you reasons to not do these for yourself, but today you know how badly you need them.
Kevin Harvey is the author of two books, his most recent being All You Need to Know about the Bible in Pop Culture. He also writes at BibleInPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter under the handle @PopCultureKevin.