I wish that preaching was akin to other professions. Where you serve 20, 25, 30 years and then live another 20, 25, 30 years after retirement. You get to see your children, your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren grow up. Unfortunately that is rarely the case.
The problem is that many pastors are in need of serious rest, retreat and revival. And no, I don’t mean going to a worship service – I mean making the time, taking the time and finding the time to make sure that the body and the mind rests.
My pastor, Minister Barton Elliott Harris, taught me something while at Westwood – the importance of the pastor getting rest. You cannot be fully used of God in the pulpit, when you bring to the pulpit a half-empty shell or a leaking vessel.
Scripture’s description, “come apart” is a great definition for what a pastor needs to do. I’ve learned that conventions, conferences, and learning experiences cannot be catalogued as rest. That’s labor. That’s intensive. That’s challenge. A pastor needs some time (every weekly) when the membership knows “this is my sacred day of rest and it must be honored.”
At my church where I serve it’s printed every week “Pastor’s Sabbatical Day of Rest” and it’s every Thursday. For the most part, I don’t take calls, I don’t do appointments, I don’t do meetings unless it is of life or death consequence. I’m a 24 hour a day on-call professional who needs at least one day to himself to get revived. The pressures of ministry are great and when you have a week of visitation, preaching, counseling, planning, denominational work, etc., you need some time alone.
I’m thankful for those who understand the necessity for this. I go to the movies. I go travel. I hang out. I find some water. I go to the country side. I go to the big city. I find a plan where I can unravel and relax.
My journeys on vacation have taken me to Gloucester, Mass., Orlando, Fl., Louisville, KY, Chattanooga, TN, the Smokey Mountains, Palm Springs, Cal., Napa Valley, Cal., Chicago, IL, Washington, DC., Baltimore, MD, Eastern Shore, Galveston, TX., New Orleans, LA, and other places.
When I come back, it’s always as a refreshed preacher, looking forward/can’t wait to hit the pulpit and proclaim after some much needed rest and reflection.
Brother or Sister Pastor who are reading this – make sure you take some time to rest before you find yourself going, going, and then gone.