As Pastors or SPRC members on our District are aware, I talk often about clergy and the need for time away from work. I always stress (no pun intended!) with SPRCs the need to make sure their clergy leaders take all the weeks of their vacation and I push them to check up on those work-a-holic clergy types to make sure they are taking their time off during the week. It is something that I believe is of critical importance to effective ministry. While working hard is necessary ─ and I certainly encourage our leaders to work hard ─ time away, rest and Sabbath are just as important! It is a design that goes all the way back to the beginning. Scripture teaches us that even God rested!
I have never seen myself as a work-a-holic. I have always taken my vacations and my days off, unless a genuine emergency caused me to break that norm. I am able to rest and not feel the urge to “do something productive.” I have believed that to rest IS to do something productive. My prayer for all of us Clergy and Lay folk alike is to find time during the upcoming summer months to get away from the routine, get away from the stress and enjoy what brings you refreshment and life.
The book of Discipline allows for District Superintendents to take a “Renewal Leave” of three months sometime during their six-year term. Following Annual Conference this year, I will begin mine. After thirty-six years of not ever taking more than two weeks off at any one time, I will enter into this lengthy period away from work. And while I’m certainly looking forward to it, I am also a little scared! I have a plan for a few things that I want to do. I will engage a few special things that are on the agenda. But for the most part I’m going to be by the lake, resting. And while as I said I don’t really view myself as a work-a-holic, it just feels weird to be planning to be away from work that long.
I trust I will get over the apprehension I’m feeling! I’m sure, if I’m anything like my colleagues who have taken this time away, I will come back refreshed and all too aware of how weary I was. Please pray for me as I take this time away and know that I will be praying for you. As there are issues or concerns that arise during my absence, Liz in the District office can get you the help you need through another Superintendent or others who are helping to cover for needs that may arise.
I wanted to share this plan with you now so that if there are concerns you have and need to speak to me before I leave, you can do so now. Thanks for all you do in the ongoing ministry of your churches and the ministry we share together. As the song goes (if you’re old enough to remember it!), I’ll see you in September.