Vacation Re-Entry for Pastors

Coming back is often more traumatic than going away, and this is one of the biggest reasons that pastors avoid taking vacations. The stress and overwhelm of re-entry can quickly erase any of the good effects of being away. 

If your vacation plans are for the middle or end of August, you’ll have the double challenge of arriving back just when it seems the whole world is gearing up for a big launch into September plans. That energy could really consume you if you’re not careful.

Resuming your ministry role isn’t like turning the switch from off to on. Instead, have a plan for a gradual transition, working backwards through all of the items in your vacation plan.

  • Be realistic. You are going to have messages. Lots of them. Schedule ample time to review and act on your voicemail and email messages, and to go through any postal mail.
  • Get up to date. If you planned ahead and delegated your tasks, you’re not coming back to a pile of built-up tasks, you’re coming back to get updates on how those tasks were implemented. And you can make that expectation clear before you go.
  • Expect the unexpected. Give yourself open space for unexpected issues that people will bring you. Some of your best plans will have fallen through – it happens.
  • Prioritize. It is up to you to decide what’s most important and urgent – not someone else. Everyone will feel that their updates are most important. With your newly cleared head, you will have a unique vantage point to see the truth.

Vacations can be an important time to rest your body and mind, and rejuvenate your spirit for your ongoing ministry work. With planning, attention and prioritization, you can come back stronger than ever.

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