Ministry sprints are common and usually seasonal, but too many of us have been on a two year sprint and need to take a strategic summer break – preferably two Sundays in a row. With a busy spring behind you and a packed fall calendar ahead, this is a great time to change your pace and recharge between sprints.
Here are a few ways I try to recharge each summer.
1. Finish a project that’s been mocking you
Start it, finish it, and then run screaming through your yard like you just scored a World Cup goal (warning: keep your shirt on!). Practice dominion on your yard, attic, garage, or closet. Replace that fixture or toilet before fall creeps up and steals away your margin.
After I replaced the antennae on my truck yesterday evening, I strutted into the house like rooster at the County Fair.
2. Enjoy a book that feeds you personally
Reading can be relaxing, especially if it is not related to your job. I have a tendency to read several books at a time without finishing any of them. My reads this summer are A Chapter A Day: Reading the Bible in 3 Years (YouVersion); The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins; Leaders Made Here, Mark Miller; GK Chesterton, Legacy Edition; Peterson’s Bowhunting Magazine. What are you reading that feeds your soul?
3. Go outside and play
I try to stay healthy in every way the Great Commandment defines it: heart, soul, mind, strength. The outdoors seem to help expidite pastoral wellness in all of these areas.
My wife and I enjoy walking together a couples of times a week. Additionally, our personal hobbies of backpacking, bowhunting, and tennis are done outdoors. We are never too old to be told to “go outside and play.” Too hot? Get creative and find a way to get some excercise that is fun. Pickleball is a fast growing sport that can be played on indoor or outdoor tennis courts. I’ve never tried it but I play competitive tennis every week somewhere in metro Dallas.
So what do you enjoy doing for fun?
4. Take a vacation
The average worker leaves an average of 8.1 days of unused vacation each year. That is about 500 million days collectively (TIME.com). Americans are now treating vacations as a luxury rather than a benefit. I believe that vacations not only benefit us personally, but also those we live and work with during the rest of the year.
Janet and I have scheduled a backpacking trip in Montana next month. I have also put in for vacation for a couple of bowhunting trips later in the fall. Don’t hope that margin happens, make it happen. Ministry demands that we stay flexible, but it does not serve as an excuse to neglect ourselves or our families.
Perhaps you have put off a vacation so long that you are tempted to throw together a guilt trip. My advice is to take the trip, but leave the guilt at home by simply asking your family what they want to do and making it happen.
5. Unplug and recharge
About two-thirds (67 percent) of vacationing Americans remain tethered to the office, while 93 percent of the French claim to “constantly, regularly, or sometimes” check work emails and voicemails while on holiday. Ninety-four percent of Indians and 91 percent of Mexicans do the same. Only 43 percent of Germans and 46 percent of the British remain tightly connected to work while on break (TIME.com).
I personally recharge much quicker when I unplug from ministry completely. I cannot completely go into “vacation mode” unless I first turn on the “airplane mode” or turn my tools off completely. Of course, your tools may also be your toys (books, music, games), so at least turn off your email and alerts. Some go further by going dark on all social media and phone. I personally turn my phone off and ask my co-workers and family to use my wife’s phone for emergencies.
Sound radical? It is.
It takes both faith and humility. Humility to concede that you are not so important that you have to ignore your health or the sabbath. Faith to believe that Jesus and His Bride can take care of things while you are gone.
Do your very best to unplug and recharge this summer. Fall will be much more fun and fruitful if you do.