Get More than a Farmer’s Tan from Your Summer Getaway
By Phil Bell
For many of us in youth ministry, the summer is full of mission trips, special events, and altered programming. Hopefully it also provides us with a welcome change of pace and a getaway with our family or friends.
If you have a vacation planned, experience has probably taught you to make the most of your time away. It’s not long before September creeps up and we jump back into our busy schedules. Getting refreshed is paramount—we can’t allow our vacation time to drain us further.
Our ability to minister well year round will depend on how well we use our time away in the summer. Here are a few things I will be doing to ensure I come back refreshed this summer:
1) Commit to being away. It’s easy to go on vacation physically, but stay at work mentally. Whether you are a volunteer, part-time, or full-time, ministry thoughts can dominate your time. Make this commitment to yourself, your family, and your ministry: this is your time to be refreshed, not to worry about the ministry back home. God is big enough to care for your ministry while you’re away; let him take the worry from you.
2) Pour into your heart. While I am away, I try to take something to read and/or journal. While it’s hard not to think ministry in my quiet times, I try to read books and passages that pour into my heart and soul or help me escape the seriousness of life and ministry. Youth workers often try to replace personal spiritual growth with ministry growth. This vacation is the perfect time to make room for your relationship with God and to feed your spiritual needs.
3) Commit to laughter and fun. This should be a given, shouldn’t it? Study after study has shown that laughter and smiling are healthy for us. Yet budgets and staff changes and student issues create a dark cloud of seriousness we can’t quite escape. During this vacation, spend some time in the sun—in more ways than one. I have no idea what you are leaving behind in your ministry, but I encourage you to plan a number of fun activities that will allow you to laugh and experience great joy. So often we get away and arrive at our destination without a plan. Planning out your vacation sounds like a chore, but by planning at least a few fun activities in advance, you’ll save yourself from having to make plans during the actual vacation. It will also keep your brain from defaulting back to ministry.
4) Turn off technology! If your ministry is so deeply embedded in your life that you cannot get away without having to check your email and phone constantly, I would suggest there is something broken. I know many senior church workers who have modeled unhealthy ministry by structuring their ministry so the church revolves around them. They cannot go away without having to constantly check email and phone messages. That’s not good for the pastor or for the church.
If there is no “go to” person to take calls, messages, or deal with issues while you are away, try to find one before you leave. In addition, record away messages on your phone and email so people know the following:
- You are away and won’t be checking messages until you’re back.
- Leave the date you will be back in the office, so they know when they can expect you to contact them.
- Give the person who is taking calls and messages for you in case they need to talk to someone right away.
It might seem like my tone for this point is abrupt and to-the-point. It’s meant to be! I don’t want you to forget this one. How many vacations have you wasted, stuck on our phones and email accounts? Our families get the message—they come second.
These are just a few of the guidelines I have created for myself. What would you add to this list? What has been most helpful for you?
About the Author
The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry… Read More