The Pastor on Vacation

VacaIf you are a pastor, vacation is important. I know some pastors take advantage of their congregations, taking too much time away from work and wasting money on lavish trips. But the abuse of a few does not change the fact that pastors need to take vacation.

When I was a young, rookie pastor my family rarely went on vacation. I was busy trying to juggle seminary and pastoring. Any time away was spent visiting family (who we rarely saw). And to be blunt, we just couldn’t afford to go on vacation. In recent years our situation has changed. Last week we were able to spend a week away in Ruidoso, New Mexico. It was a good week of vacation, and it reminded me of the benefits of getting away.

  1. Rest. In the design of God, we must sleep everyday. In the wisdom of God, we are commanded to rest from our work one day of the week. Everyone needs to rest. That includes pastors. Vacation gives you time to do what you need to do and what you should do … rest.
  2. Worship. Pastors don’t get to “go” to church. Sunday mornings are work, and the worship service is the culmination of much study, prayer, and preparation. Yes pastors can worship even when they are working. But from time to time, it’s a blessing to just “go” to church.
  3. Humility. I have discovered that when I leave town, life goes on without me. Not only does everyday life keep moving, but my church is more than capable of carrying on without my constant presence. This is humbling, and a much needed reminder for many pastors.
  4. Ministry. My occasional absence gives opportunity for others to step up in ministry. When I was gone last week my friend Jason taught my Sunday school class, and my friend Ron preached. These men had opportunity to grow and serve because I was gone.
  5. Clarity. Pastoring can be busy and chaotic. Often the blur of ministry results in pastors giving more attention to urgent matters than important matters. In the midst of busyness it can be hard to refocus our priorities. Getting away on vacation can bring clarity to our ministry.
  6. Family. Vacation gives you the chance to focus on your family. There is less distraction (email, texting, phone calls, etc) when you get away. You have the opportunity to go to church and actually be with your family. Pastors need this intentional time to focus on their family.

I am grateful for a week away in the mountains with family. I am grateful that my church allows and encourages its pastors to take vacation. I am grateful for those who stand in my place when I’m gone.

Originally published August 10, 2015 on