One of my favorite questions to ask pastors is, “Which day of the week is your day off?” I ask the question because getting serious about a consistent day off has been one of the best decisions I have made. I also ask because I know a lot of pastors struggle in this area.
If you have ever felt overwhelmed by your pastoral responsibilities, you are not alone. A number of years ago H.B. London’s research revealed that 44% of pastors do not take a consistent, weekly day off.
Recently, as I have asked pastors about their day off I heard these responses:
I get it. I’ve been there too.
For several years I worked 50 hours a week in addition to pastoring a small church. In this scenario, a day off is nearly impossible. Bi-vocational pastors deserve all the support and encouragement we can give them.
For the past 15 years I have been fortunate to serve “full time” as a pastor, but that doesn’t mean time management has been easy.
A number of years back I was at a low place emotionally and spiritually. I had worked seven weeks straight…49 consecutive days without a day off. We were working on a church remodeling project, and I had convinced myself that I had to get it done.
Getting no rest was extremely taxing on my relationship with God, my family, and my emotional state. Recognizing something had to change, I sought out the help of Christian counselor and a ministry coach. Both individuals were extremely helpful.
I’ll never forget the counselor reading Psalm 23 where David said, “He restores my soul.” He looked at me and said, “Loren, you are empty. You need to allow God to restore your soul.” I wept as I heard these words, but I knew it was true.
I made several changes that brought me back to a place of spiritual, emotional, and relational health. One of the most important changes I made was setting a consistent day off every week.
If a regular day off has been a challenge for you, here are some practical ways to make this a reality…
1. Have a conversation with your board. Be open and honest about your schedule and the need for regular rest.
2. Decide which day of the week works best for you. Most pastors take either Monday or Friday. Talk with your family and pick a day. Inform your church about your day off and why it is important.
3. Make your day off a priority. Write it on your calendar and schedule meetings around it.
4. Create a schedule for who is responsible for any needs that might come up on your day off. Delegate authority to a staff member, deacon, or even a volunteer. Of course, you are available in a true emergency, but these are rare.
5. Prepare how you will spend your day off. Do something fun and relaxing. Think of something you used to enjoy, but have not been able to find the time to do. Reconnect with friends. Take a date night.
6. Stay away from email, texts, and social media. It is very easy to get drawn back into work. Try to avoid having "work" conversations with your spouse. Ministry really can be consuming, and we have to fight this tendency to be "on" 24/7.
Question: Do you take a weekly day off? What helps you to be consistent?
Hi! I'm Loren Hicks. I am follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a friend, and for the past