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 (see my thoughts here about sabbaticals). 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?