SIX REASONS I AM THANKFUL FOR MY ANNUAL STUDY BREAK
In a few short weeks I start my annual study break. Last year I wrote about it, and I thought it would be good to refresh us all on why it is imperative to take breaks.
It was my first Sunday on the platform after being away for a month last year. “We could totally tell you were fresh and ready to get back,” somebody said to me that morning. And they were right.
Soon after I started here, our elders instituted this annual break. “If you’re going to be in this ministry for the long haul, you can’t do 50 weeks a year, even 40,” they told me. “You need time to be alone, to rest, to be with your family.”
I’m so thankful for their wisdom.
While taking time for rest is important for anyone in any job, a break like mine is especially vital for lead pastors. Here’s why.
1. IT ALLOWS CREATIVITY TO BE REKINDLED
Think about your favorite TV show. At most it offers 26 episodes in a year. Even with a whole staff of paid professionals—writers, camera operators, sound technicians, make-up artists, set designers, producers, directors, and more—no show would consider trying to create all-new every week.
But that’s exactly what we do in the local church. No reruns. No repeats from even several years ago. As a good friend in ministry said to me, “No man is good enough to do 52 weeks.”
And yet some churches expect this of their minister. And some preachers expect this of themselves. As their time on the job increases, their freshness decreases. They need a break.
2. IT SAYS OUR MINISTRY IS MORE THAN JUST ONE LEADER
My annual break reminds everyone that our church is not built around the voice of just one man. It demonstrates the health in hearing different perspectives from the platform. And it’s not just about the preaching. We hired a new staff member while I was out of town! I didn’t need to be an integral part of the process. This church is not about me. It’s about Jesus.
3. IT GIVES OTHER LEADERS THE CHANCE TO SHINE
If you really want other staff members to grow in leadership, give them the opportunity to lead in your absence.
Our church didn’t miss a beat while I was gone. When I was out of town I watched our worship services at CC live, and they were as strong as ever. I kept track of social media and saw the positive comments people were making about our ministry. It did my heart good.
But you have to be comfortable in your own skin for this to happen. While I was away, one of our ministers, Brad Wilson, preached a series of sermons from the book of James. I wanted him to succeed, and he did!
4. IT PROVIDES LONG STRETCHES OF TIME WITH MY FAMILY
We took a vacation like many other families enjoy—playing together brings us closer. But that’s not all.
We attended the North American Christian Convention as a family. It was great not only for me but for my wife and daughters to hang out with significant leaders from across the country.
We watched CC Live in the car driving home from vacation, with all four of us singing the worship songs together.
Two Sundays we were in town and I was able to attend church in our building with my family, all four of us arriving together and sitting in the same pew. What a treat!
5. IT REINFORCES MY JOY AT SERVING AT MY CHURCH
I missed our church when we were visiting other churches. I was wishing I was at home with our team, with our church family. And I sometimes found myself thinking, I wish this church I’m visiting had the team we have in Mason.
6. IT REFRESHES MY BODY AND MY SPIRIT
I spent one week with other ministry friends just having fun. All of us need the chance to do that. I spent one week at home while Laura and the girls visited family out of state. I read, I wrote in my journal, I prayed—nothing can replace such extended times alone with God.
I’m so grateful for leaders with the vision to give me such a break. All too often ministers without this privilege burn out or suffer a moral or ethical failure as they seek a way out.
Not me. I’m ready to go. I can lift more than I could before I took the break. And that’s good.