By Mark Dance
I recently read (and confirmed) that your phone will recharge twice as fast when you put it in airplane mode. Last summer I decided to experiment with this concept on myself, since I was tired and in need of a personal recharge. To be clear, I was not tired of ministry; simply tired from it. This is a common sentiment from many pastors and leaders who have served enthusiastically for the Lord (see Col. 3:23).
Last spring was the busiest season of ministry I had ever experienced. My church in Arkansas had just completed a historic relocation on Easter while simultaneously launching a ministry center on our downtown campus with several partner churches. Both projects were indescribably fulfilling, but nonetheless draining. Oh yeah – the very next Sunday after our move, an F-4 tornado waltzed through our county killing sixteen and wiping out 500 homes, thus launching the new Ministry Center early.
Ministry sprints are common and often predictably seasonal. With a busy spring behind you and a packed fall calendar ahead, summer is a great time to change the pace and recharge between sprints. Here are a few lessons I learned that helped me recharge last summer.
1. Finish a project that’s been mocking you
Start it, finish it, and then run screaming through your yard like you just scored a World Cup goal. Practice dominion on your yard, attic, garage, or closet. Replace that fixture or toilet before fall creeps up and steals away your margin.
2. Enjoy a book that feeds you personally
Reading can be relaxing, especially if it is not related to your job. I have a tendency to read several books at a time without finishing any of them. My spiritual summer read last year was Be Real by my friend Rick Bezet of New Life Church in Arkansas. My fictional summer reads were by Ted Dekker and Brandilyn Collins. Do you have any suggestions?
3. Go outside and play
Pastoring pastors is no easier than pastoring members, so I try to stay healthy in every way the Great Commandment defines it: heart, soul, mind, strength. The outdoors seem to help me in all of these areas, sometimes at the same time. I am typing this on my back porch right now as I cool off from my morning jog.
My wife and I enjoy walking together a couples of times a week, as well as our own personal hobbies of backpacking and bowhunting. We are never too old to be told to “go outside and play.” What do you enjoy doing outside?
4. Take a vacation
The average worker leaves an average of 8.1 days of unused vacation each year. That is about 500 million days collectively (TIME.com). Americans are now treating vacations as a luxury rather than a benefit. I believe that vacations not only benefit us personally, but also those we live and work with during the rest of the year.
Perhaps you have put off a vacation so long that you are tempted to throw together a guilt trip. My advice is to take the trip, but leave the guilt at home by simply asking your family what they want to do and making it happen.
5. Unplug and recharge
About two-thirds (67 percent) of vacationing Americans remain tethered to the office, while 93 percent of the French claim to “constantly, regularly, or sometimes” check work emails and voicemails while on holiday. Ninety-four percent of Indians and 91 percent of Mexicans do the same. Only 43 percent of Germans and 46 percent of the British remain tightly connected to work while on break (TIME.com).
I personally recharge much quicker when I unplug from ministry completely. I cannot completely go into “vacation mode” unless I first turn on the “airplane mode” or turn my tools off completely. Of course, your tools may also be your toys (books, music, games), so at least turn off your email and alerts. Some go further by going dark on all social media and phone. I personally turn my phone off and ask my staff to use my wife’s phone for emergencies.
Sound radical? It is. It takes both faith and humility. Humility to concede that you are not all that important. Faith to believe that Jesus and His Bride can take care of things while you are gone. Try it and see how much faster your soul recharges.
What suggestions do you have for unplugging and recharging in the summer?