He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. Psalms 23: 2-3a NIV
Recently, I was very fortunate to enjoy a two-week vacation. It is safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and will admit that I needed it. It was not so much where I went or what I did, but that for two entire weeks I did not return any emails, answer any office calls, attend any meetings or visit any hospitals. It was truly rest, relaxation and in some form sabbath.
As I return back to work I am met with the time of year for the Personnel Committee to begin the process of staff evaluation. Although there are more sophisticated ways to state this, the Committee will attempt to determine if employees are meeting the expectations of their job by evaluating success, time effectiveness and more simply stated hard work. Sometimes, a culture of work, work, work can be troubling.
In an online social media survey Thom Rainer asked pastors to report their vacation time: almost half of the respondents (49%) stated taking anywhere from zero to two weeks of vacation. His survey also noted several other issues, few pastors take all of their allocated vacation at one time and one-third of the pastors reported that they always take fewer days than the church permits. Let me restate that 33% claimed that they knowingly take less vacation days than they are allocated.
In an article by Matt and Kim Bloom on clergy burnout, they said, ”There are a number of reasons pastors are at risk of burnout. One reason is they pour themselves out into their work and often don’t know when to say “enough.” There’s always something more to do. There’s always another need to meet. So, there’s a tendency to continue to invest past the time that they need to step back and rest. There are also pressures from the congregation. People don’t understand that pastors have real lives. And so, demands tend to come consistently and constantly.” I would suspect that many readers would now say “that will preach!!!!” The Blooms also recommend four recovery experiences for clergy with number one on their list being physical relaxation. Boy do I need to hear that!
Rest in its best form may be as important as work. I admit that I have never been in a Personnel Committee meeting in which a Committee member asked “has our staff taken all of their allocated vacation time this year?” I am convicted that this is a question that we should and will ask this year!
These thoughts above are from John Daniels, our partner based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. His primary focus is working alongside churches in administrative challenges and opportunities. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at 910.899.6724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.