How to Make a Day Off Your Priority

Many of us, as pastors, would rather burn out than rust out. We feel good when someone compliments us on how hard we work. We feel challenged to do more. We want to be like Jesus, offered as a "living sacrifice." But our zeal becomes our problem.

Ministers are inclined to follow an unwritten code that says that we must put in an enormous number of hours so that no one will ever think we're not working hard enough. We don't want anyone to doubt our commitment to sacrificial ministry. We want to be known as hardworking and diligent. If someone questions our commitment to ministry, our instinctive response is, "I'll show you," and we try to add even more hours to our hectic schedules.

Envision a balanced life based on biblical principles. On the seventh day, God rested. Jesus told His disciples: "Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31, HCSB.)

    Remember your purpose

    You have nothing to prove to God. He knows you, He loves you, and He will use you to accomplish His will if you are obedient to Him. The Bible does not say that God can only use us if your calendars is full. In fact, He admonishes you to "Be still." God is more concerned with the time you spend with Him than He is with the number of hours you work each day.

    Model a balanced life for your church family

    My priorities include developing my relationship with God, providing for my own personal well-being and nurturing my relationship with my family. I make it a point to prioritize family time. I take regular days off for relaxation and fun with my spouse and children. My church takes pride in knowing that their minister is modeling a positive lifestyle.

    Give up proving how hard you work

    Most church members will never fully understand how hard you work. You may work through a ministers relations committee to help your church family understand the following:

    • When I'm at the hospital, I'm working.
    • When my wife and I attend an open house for a birthday, a graduation, or a wedding anniversary, I'm working.
    • When I'm in my car traveling two hours to a distant hospital to be with a church member who will undergo serious surgery, I'm working.
    • When I have lunch with a prospective member, I'm working.
    • When my wife and I have folks to our house for an evening, I'm working.
    • I'm working even if my body is not present in the church office.

    Pastor, it's up to you to take a day of rest. I believe you will accomplish more in five-and-a-half long days each week than in seven. This will especially hold true when you are refreshed in body, soul, mind, spirit, will and emotion.

    Dr. Drexel C. Rankin and his wife, Patty, live in Louisville, Kentucky. They have two grown children and one granddaughter. Adapted by Craig Webb from a previously published article.

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