When our current children's lead came onboard he was a workaholic. No joke. He had an online toy business that was grossing nearly a million a year. He was leading a ministry in a children's area of a very large church and serving on the board of a private school. No one in his current church was telling him, "Hey, slow down, life's a marathon not a sprint." No one in this nearly mega-church sized church was mentoring him on rhythm. Why? Probably because they too were all burning the candle at both ends.
So when we brought Richard on I sat with him and explained, "We don't do that here. You will take breaks. You will spend time with your family, it's not an option. I know it will feel weird but your first ministry is your family." He was taken back at first. But now after serving in our culture here's what he has to say,
"Rest was designed by God. Modeled by Him from the foundation of time itself. Later, Jesus models rest for us as well. When I refused to rest, I was in essence, refusing to submit. Learning to rest has been an exercise in submission. An acknowledgement that I am not the center of my universe and has freed me to trust more and worry less which has enabled me to enjoy a deeper and more invigorating rest, the way God intended."
From learning to rest he gained a new hobby. He now has his own show on Facebook titled, "Fans of Richard Harvey After Dark" where he discusses vintage toys and tries different snacks with a new guest each week. Learning to rest has breathed new life, not only in his ministry, but in his "hobbies" as well. You can catch his show on Wednesday nights at 9 PM on Facebook.
That's why I'm so grateful for Ministry's like New Trails Ministry in South Dakota led by Rodney and Deb Veldhuizen who provide a cabin and counseling (as needed) for pastors to get away. My wife and I took a vacation there this year and loved it. It was refreshing to unplug and "escape." There is a link to their ministry below. There are places like theirs all around the country for pastors to "get away" and rejuvenate.
Pastors, just because our boss never sleeps and is always at work doesn't mean He expects us to be. We have to take time for ourselves, just as Jesus did. Imagine taking more time for yourself where even new hobbies are birthed and your hobby leads to additional income!! WOW!!
An unhealthy pastor will breed an unhealthy congregation. Not intentionally of course but it will begin to happen slowly and without you recognizing it. Locally I know of churches that "burn and churn" through people like they were replaceable spark plugs in an engine. I can tell you that church has an unhealthy habit but people flock to it. Is it worth the damage they are doing to their leaders? I don't think so.
I want you to have a healthy marriage, family, have vitality to your ministry and enjoy your hobbies. Here are some places that I'm aware of, that are specifically designed for pastors and their families to go vacation, get counseling (if needed) and rejuvenate to keep the vitality in your life. If you know of places please leave them in the comments with a link to their site. Be blessed and rejuvenate.
Beside Still Waters - Bradenton, FL
Camp Gilead - Polk City, FL
Deer Ridge Ministries - Freeport, IL
Shepherds Gate Inn - Martinsville, IN
The Springs - Oldenburg, IN
Miracle Camp - Lawton, MI
The Lodge - Buchanan, MI
BMI Oasis - Richland, MI
Mountaintop Retreat - Bozeman, MT
New Trails Ministry - Custer, SD
Shepherds Haven of Rest - Arlington, TN
Tuckaleechee Retreat Center - Townsend, TN