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4 Tips for Vacationing Well

02 Aug Leadership, Student Ministry | Comments Off on 4 Tips for Vacationing Well
4 Tips for Vacationing Well

“I Only Have You for Two Days!”

Naomi and I were so excited to go on vacation.  It had been a normal first year of youth ministry.  Crazy!!!!  At the time we didn’t know any better.  We were young, full of life and excited about how God was working in the lives of the teens we were serving.  After a very full year of ministry and almost no breaks we decided a vacation would be good.  With almost no planning we decided to jump in the car and drive to Cocoa Beach.  You heard me right!  Cocoa Beach, the one located on the eastern shore of Florida.  We traveled from Pennsylvania to Florida non-stop via interstate 95 through the night, not the brightest idea.  After arriving the next morning we simply crashed.  What I mean is we barely left our hotel room for the first three days.

Still connected via technology and a big ministry week immediately looming following our vacation created a situation where I was less than present.  Towards the end of our week, Naomi looked at me and said, “So, I only had you for two days!”  Wow, she was right.  My old paradigm of work and rest no longer worked.  All I knew in life prior to this trip was punching a clock and walking away from work.  The expectation from my previous employers was simply come back in a week!

It’s not like punching a “Clock”

When you punch a clock or work for an hourly rate there are natural boundaries and lines your employer does not cross.  The “clock” in normal business practices governs how employers use their people.   Once over 40 hours the “clock” pays you over time, and frankly how many businesses want to pay their employees time and a half or even double time?  Seriously, how often does an hourly paid person receive a call in the middle of the night to go to the hospital and sit with a family in need?  They don’t.  With most of us in ministry receiving salary pay as well as an endless list of demands, the work will never be done.  This reality coupled with high expectations and little accountability as to how an individual gives to an organization often leaves ministry workers depleted.  If we are not careful in creating our own boundaries these same demands bleed into our vacations.  In the end, we are the only ones who can create space for ourselves to rest.

So how do we vacation well?

Self-Leadership is key to being able to vacation well.

The ability to disconnect must be an inner permission we grant ourselves for true rest to happen.  No one can make this choice for us.  For some of us it will be important to disconnect from technology all together, whereas for others it might be essential to maintain some form of connection.  Regardless of how you best rest the following are some basic principles which can be followed to help minimize the amount of distractions and connection needed during your time on vacation.

4 Tips on Preparing to Vacation

  1. Create clear expectations for student ministry leaders.

    Plans for vacation should be made well in advance giving time to select and equip a point person for the time you will be gone.  Your dates and plan for vacation should be communicated to your leadership team in advance along with a clear set of expectations as to who is responsible for specific details.  Equipping and training your leaders to consistently take on parts of the ministry throughout a normal year will help when the time comes for you to get away.

  2. Make clear lines of communication.

    Find a point person who you can empower and trust to care for the details of the ministry.  Clearly communicate to leadership above as well as your ministry team who this point person will be.  This point person should be the only person to have contact with you in the rare case of an emergency.  For your e-mail account create an auto response which gives the days you will be out of town as well as an expected day for return e-mails or phone messages.  Within your auto response give the name and contact information for your point person in case of emergency.  Don’t give out your cell number to a bunch of random people or place it in your auto response.

  3. Don’t plan extra ministry responsibilities immediately before or after your vacation.

    Nothing robs a vacation quicker than coming into your vacation week already tired from a large event.  Significant emotional or physical drain never allows you to be present for yourself or others.  Ease into vacation.  Make your schedule light the week before as well as after.  Also, don’t plan to speak the day you are back. Hitting the ground running post vacation means you will lose the last few days of being away.

  4. Do a quick check of the day-to-day

    Make sure the small everyday details of home are cared for ahead of time.  Something as simple as someone to retrieve your mail being forgotten may take your mind off being present.  For some of you this may mean finding a solution for your pet, flowers being watered, caring for elderly family members and so on.  You know where I am going.  If these small details are not attended to prior, they may become large interruptions in your vacation space.

If you want to know how you’re doing in this area.  Simply ask your husband, wife or family members.  I am sure they would be more than happy to provide you with some basic feedback on how you are creating space for a healthy vacation.  Have fun vacationing as summer comes to an end, and prayerfully you will be present for more than two days!

Rick Rhoads
Professor of Student Min at Lancaster Bible College
Rick is the Director of the Student Ministry Majors at Lancaster Bible College. He has served as an Assistant Professor in Student Ministry at LBC for the past 7 years. Over the past 18 years, he has served in various Student Ministry roles at Lebanon Valley YFC, LCBC, Calvary Bible Church, and Riverbend Community Church. Rick, his wife Naomi, and their two children Grace and Eli live East Petersburg, PA.