A Pastor's Three Keys for Vacation Planning
"He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while.' For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat" Mark 6:31 (HCSB).
As summer approaches, pastors and their families need to get away to rest, recharge, rejuvenate, and re-create. Here are a few things to consider as you plan a vacation that you won't require a week of recovery, a year of repaying, or a long time regretting.
Plan a vacation that will refresh and renew your spirit
Plan a vacation that will allow activities that refresh each family member. Be sure to do these activities early in the trip. Some vacations are so packed with constant activity that you are exhausted when you return.
Plan times for rest, relaxation, conversation, and inspiration. When planning activities, make sure they rejuvenate you, your spouse, and each one of your family members. Consider outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, boating, camping, campfires, caving, rock-climbing, photography, tennis, golf, disc golf, bird watching, horseback riding, summer plays, waterfalls, bicycling, visiting archaeological or historical sites, and benchmarking (geolocating or geocaching). Consider indoor activities such as exploring historical homes and architecturally interesting buildings, museums, hands-on science centers, and aquariums.
The key is choosing activities you won't spend a week recovering from.
Plan a vacation you can afford
As you plan your vacation, think through how much you can spend and where the funds will come from. Estimate all the associated costs, and discuss with your family the best way to make your budget work. As you calculate costs, consider every potential expense including fuel, snacks, meals, lodging, taxes, entrance fees, activity costs, equipment rental, souvenirs, airfare, baggage fees, and any costs for boarding pets. If you don't have the funds, consider these ideas from HomeLife Magazine for No-Budget Vacations.
The key is to avoid overspending or borrowing for vacations, and then spending the rest of the year paying for it. Early in our ministry, my wife and I held a big yard sale and earned enough for two nights and three days of great rest and re-creating at a nearby resort hotel. It's one of our most treasured memories.
Plan well for what will happen at your church while you are gone
If you really want to get away to rest, recharge, and rejuvenate, assign your responsibilities to key leaders, and ensure adequate staffing and volunteers will be available to deal with crises. Assign a key staff person, deacon, or other church leader with pastoral care responsibilities, such as hospital and homebound visitation. Ask a local denominational leader or fellow pastor to be on call for a death in the immediate church family. Communicate this to your leaders and congregation. Agree to check phone, email, or text messages once or twice a day. Take a break from social networking.
The key is to avoid a vacation with constant interruptions or a mishandled church crisis that you may regret for a long time.