How many weeks do you get off each year?
I hope that youth pastors get at least 4 weeks off each year. My guess is that many don’t have more than two weeks off each year.
We need to take time off. With my experience as a youth pastor on holidays, I have learned that I suck at taking time off. I think that a ton of youth workers are in the same boat. It is almost impossible to disconnect from the students we work with. With a lot of our connections on social media, and online, it has become difficult to disengage and disconnect. We need to take time to recharge, and refresh. We need for God to speak to us again. This year I hope that on your holidays you disengage, take a break, enjoy life, and reconnect with God, your wife, your kids, and friends.
Jesus tells his disciples in John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” When I take off on holidays I find that I disengage with who I am as a youth pastor, and find myself as a Child of God again.
Here are a few things I do when I take time off.
1. Disconnect. I totally shut off my email, and I don’t check my facebook. These things become distractions and I need to spend time away from technology. The more I am away from these two ways to connect, the more I realize I am addicted to them. (Tip: make sure if you are not going to respond to your email for two weeks, set up an auto responder message that says you are away and when you will be back. This is really easy with Gmail. )
2. Leave my phone at home. I try to do this, and last year when I was in Hawaii I brought my phone, but I left it in my bag for two weeks. It was awesome. I felt free from the burden of my cell phone. Again, I wasn’t receiving daily/hourly email. Now, I leave my cell phone at home. I don’t want to receive text messages, or any other notifications. This has become trickier now that I purchased an ipad a few months ago.
3. Bring a Bible that you can mark up and write in. I try to create new rituals while on holidays. I will usually sleep in on holidays, so I will do devotions at night. I love being able to work on passages, or write in the margins of my Bible. I also usually start a new reading plan for a week or two weeks. It is refreshing to be in the Word only to read, and pray through. I never work on a youth message, or even look at a passage that I will be preaching on in a few weeks ahead.
4. Don’t go to church. I used to always go to church on my holidays, but now I don’t. My Lead Pastor told me not to go to church while away in November and I listened. It was great to not be thinking or comparing this church I was visiting to my church. When I got back, I went to see Andy Stanley at Catalyst One Day Conference, and Andy Stanley said that he didn’t go to church on his holidays either. He was saying that it is a great break for your kids, and that it shows that we are focused on Jesus and not just the church.
Those are a few things I try to do while I am on holidays. I want to be there for my wife, and my kids. They have a husband who is distracted more often that not, and the deserve me there, present with them.