Are You Afraid To Take Time Off?

Courtesy of Dave Stokes/Creative Commons License

The first vacation I took as a youth minister was for a wedding.  I remember feeling a panic as I looked at the clock and thought to myself, “It’s going on right now!  I hope everyone is okay.”  I constantly checked my cell phones for missed calls or text messages asking for my help; however, they never came.  When I got back to work that Monday I asked the people who stepped in how everything went and they said, “Pretty good, it was a lot of fun.”  You would think that I felt better the next time I’m took time off; but, the fears were still the same, “How can they survive without me?”
If you are a youth minister chances are you struggle with taking time off.  You can’t help but constantly check-in to see if people are okay.  You quietly hide in the bathroom to say a few quick prayers.  You miss out on pieces of your break because you are just waiting for that one precious moment where everything falls apart back at the church.  Why is that?

The reason you might struggle to take time off is due to:
  • Never Replacing Yourself: Unless you are new to ministry, you’ve never taken the time to learn how to replace yourself.  The more you train your team to lead, the closer you get to working yourself out of a job, which is a good thing.  You want to hand off pieces of leadership so that you can focus on new endeavors and allow God to lead you to new heights.
  • An Absence Of Margin:With a lack of margin in your life you never have had the time to prepare for time off.  The way that you obtain that margin is through proper scheduling.  A schedule creates a pace and that pace should include breathing points.
  • A Lack Of Trust:You love your ministers but you don’t trust that they will carry the program to the same level of excellence as you.  Maybe they’ve failed you before or maybe the lack of trust comes from previous relationships.  You won’t be able to trust them unless you hand over the doubt to God.
  • Being Consumed With Pride:  You can’t do this on your own; so stop trying.  It’s not about being a leader with hundreds of followers; it’s about being a part of the church.  You’ve made the ministry about you if you can’t delegate and share the responsibility with others.
  • A Fear Of Disappointment:  While the rest of the team is working, you feel guilty.  That feeling can come from unspoken expectations that you’ve laid on yourself or received from others.  If you feel that way you need to talk with people you trust and love because chances are, it’s the thief trying to steal, kill and destroy your joy.  It might be hard for the staff when you go away, but they would rather have you rested then burned out and resentful.

Taking time off is a major part of lasting in ministry.  Without breaks you’ll grow tired, jaded and burned out.  Some of the breaks are short lived, others are a 2 week vacation.  Either way it’s important to head into them prepared, trusting that the team around you will be as effective.  Because it’s not us, it’s God who makes real life change.

Do you struggle to take time off?  If so why?