This post originally appeared on Chuck Lawless’ blog on Oct.25.
All of us in ministry need breaks. I’m not talking, though, about dropping out of ministry. That drastic step may be necessary at times, but I’m talking about taking a walk around the church campus . . . or leaving the office for an hour to sit in a coffee shop . . . or planning a vacation . . . or asking for a sabbatical. You might just need a break when:
- You’re planning your next sermon to be a blistering critique of your congregation. When you’re planning to use your message time to discipline your church for not following you, you probably need a break.
- You’re ready to send an email written when you’re irritated and angry. Take a break. Don’t send it. Trust me.
- You’re taking out your ministry frustrations on your family. When the people you love bear the brunt of your frustrations, you need to take a break. For their sake and yours.
- You dread Sundays. That’s the day when your congregation gathers to worship God. They’re looking to you to help them experience God’s love, grace, and mercy. Take a break if you no longer look forward to leading them.
- You find yourself thinking about old sin patterns. When temptations begin to secure more ground in your life, there’s usually a reason. Sometimes it happens because you’ve allowed your circumstances to turn you away from God. Take a break and get re-focused.
- Your worries and concerns keep you up at night. They exhaust you emotionally during the daytime, and they wear you out in the night. You need a day off. At least.
- Your physician tells you you’re headed toward trouble. There’s nothing spiritually healthy about ignoring both your doctor and the Bible’s expectation of rest to do your job.
- You’ve surprised—and even frightened—your spouse by talking about resignation. That usually happens when we’re overreacting to some immediate issue that frustrates us. If your spouse isn’t on board, take a break.
- You’re just plain mad at somebody. Righteous anger has a place, but much of our anger borders quickly on unrighteousness. When you’re really angry, take a breath before you respond.
- You’re not praying much. Maybe you’re too independent, operating in your own strength. Perhaps you’re so busy you don’t think you have time to pray. Whatever the reason, take a walk. And pray.
How do you know when you need to take a break?