Time Away for Pastors


Photo: Zwaddi

Photo: Zwaddi

Do you allow your pastor time away from the office and the demands of ministry?

I read an article earlier this week that was tweeted by Ron Edmondson – Pastor Commits Suicide While Congregation Waits for Him To Preach. It broke my heart on so many levels.

While it seems the bigger issue with Pastor Teddy Parker could have been mental illness, I want to address the need for people to make it okay for pastors to take time away from their ministry.

My pastor was recently gone for two weeks and I picked up only a tiny amount of the slack that is a constant in his life. By the last day of his time away, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the details, questions, issues and more that I took care of. It wasn’t anything major, and it was energizing to be able to delegate and take care of things to keep the church running smooth, but I was glad when Pastor was back.

I had a small glimpse into the late-night and early morning texts with sick pastors and families. In the almost 2-years that we’ve had our own building we haven’t had a funeral – until Pastor was gone. (I was really proud of our team who stepped up and got things taken care of.) And so many more details that arose.

Pastors work hard.

There is a huge demand on their time from sun-up to sun-down. Somebody always needs something, has a question, has an emergency or wants to complain.

Pastors spend hours putting their sermons together to get them just right. They may create an outline for people to take notes, search for a video clip, or determine if a skit will be used to make a point. (I know a pastor who brought in a small front-loader full of Jelly Belly’s to make a point!)

Many pastors are dealing with the demands of building programs, spending hours in meetings and discussions.

I know quite a few pastors who write books. Writing is very time-consuming.

Being a pastor is a 24-hour-a-day job. No time off.

Unless Pastor makes time.

Let it be okay for your pastor to take time off. Let him go away for the weekend, or two-weeks. He needs that balance in his life. He needs time to rest, refresh, focus on his family and hear from God. I promise that when he gets back, he’ll be full of energy.

Release him with your blessing and don’t make comments when he gets back, like, “I’m sure glad you’re back! We needed you!”

I don’t know if a vacation would’ve helped Pastor Teddy Parker or not. It sounds like he had a lot of pressure with all that he had going on with a building program, and battling a mental illness in itself is stressful. I pray that his family is comforted by Jesus as they walk through this difficult time.

What are you doing to make sure your pastor has time off? How can you help your pastor have a safe person to confide in?

Read my previous post: Why Bless Your Pastor