Do Pastors Relax?


Do pastors relax? There is a grand question. Many pastors work 80+ hours a week, even down to cutting the grass for the church, janitorial services, and a host of non-pastoral or quasi-pastoral tasks. Why do we do this to ourselves? Family has little room in such a life. Friends exist only on the internet. Time for personal recharging and reflection will certainly be at the bottom of the heap. We can easily look at life as one long series of obligations (and failures), and that all we do is try to keep our heads above water. I once had a pastor tell me that we (meaning pastors) measure our day not by the mistakes we make, but by the number of things we didn’t get done.

I certainly have lived that life, and continue to struggle with it every day. Guilt is a powerful thing, and none of us will ever fulfill our vocations completely (see the Ten Commandments).

All of this brings me back to my original question: Do pastors relax? And if they do, how?

One thing that really is critical for pastors and relaxation (and this may sound a little silly) is that often it has to be scheduled. I live by my calendar. If it isn’t on the calendar, or on the “task list,” it simply isn’t going to happen. If I do this, it is much more likely that I will take the time to sit back and relax. Golf. Tennis. Cards. Brewing Beer. Drinking tea by the lake. Whatever it is.

Of course, the danger with scheduling relaxation is making it become another obligation, something you MUST do can become a chore in no time. It’s a delicate balance.

Is it worth it? YES!

Is it a hard habit to form. YES!

Can you do it? YES!

Talk with your spouse about it if you’re married. It will help across the board in dealing with people, church, home, and the like.

So how do you relax?

-DMR

4 thoughts on “Do Pastors Relax?”

  1. What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing it. A good friend of mine who is a pastor in another Lutheran Church body once said to me: “Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.” I knew when I heard it, it was true in a very positive way.

    For myself, I find that guarding the calendar is a must. I DO schedule things like: Cards with the Wagners; Cards with the Asburrys. But I also find that I need to schedule “free time.” Time that I have no obligation to do anything at all. Frankly, I usually spend that time reading, because reading is something that I intensely enjoy. My mom always said you can go around the world with a good book and never leave your rocking chair. I also don’t hesitate to take time out during the day to bike ride or do other exercise. And I try NOT to think about the sermon while I’ll doing such things, but that doesn’t always work.

    I find that I also need to allow myself time to get away from the family. That sounds awful, but I think packing up and going to conference where I’m face to face with a bunch of fellow pastors is rather like the hunters going off together for some male only time. I need that time away and with my colleagues. I usually despise the conferences, understand, but treasure the time with friends that I see too seldom.

    A real life safer for me has been our weekly pericopal study group. For 15 years a group of us has met on Wednesday mornings to study the pericopes for the Sunday following the upcoming one and then to go to lunch together. Talk about a source of support and a highlight of my week! We’re not meeting right now (so many conflicts during the summer) but will begin again sometime in August, and I’m dying for it.

    Oh, one more thing, my parish has been wonderful in this regard. They know I won’t make every meeting and are fine with that; though we live in a parsonage there is zero sense of the “fish bowl” mentality. I need time and space just to function and they’ve allowed it to me in abundance, and I am quite thankful to them for it.

  2. What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing it. A good friend of mine who is a pastor in another Lutheran Church body once said to me: “Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.” I knew when I heard it, it was true in a very positive way.

    For myself, I find that guarding the calendar is a must. I DO schedule things like: Cards with the Wagners; Cards with the Asburrys. But I also find that I need to schedule “free time.” Time that I have no obligation to do anything at all. Frankly, I usually spend that time reading, because reading is something that I intensely enjoy. My mom always said you can go around the world with a good book and never leave your rocking chair. I also don’t hesitate to take time out during the day to bike ride or do other exercise. And I try NOT to think about the sermon while I’ll doing such things, but that doesn’t always work.

    I find that I also need to allow myself time to get away from the family. That sounds awful, but I think packing up and going to conference where I’m face to face with a bunch of fellow pastors is rather like the hunters going off together for some male only time. I need that time away and with my colleagues. I usually despise the conferences, understand, but treasure the time with friends that I see too seldom.

    A real life safer for me has been our weekly pericopal study group. For 15 years a group of us has met on Wednesday mornings to study the pericopes for the Sunday following the upcoming one and then to go to lunch together. Talk about a source of support and a highlight of my week! We’re not meeting right now (so many conflicts during the summer) but will begin again sometime in August, and I’m dying for it.

    Oh, one more thing, my parish has been wonderful in this regard. They know I won’t make every meeting and are fine with that; though we live in a parsonage there is zero sense of the “fish bowl” mentality. I need time and space just to function and they’ve allowed it to me in abundance, and I am quite thankful to them for it.

  3. I find in my own vocation as wife, mother and homeschool teacher I do much better when I have some time to enjoy by myself. I like reading a book or stuff on the internet, but I need relative quiet around me to do that. It helps that I have my own sewing room so I can go in there, shut the door and work on a project when I need time to recharge.

  4. I find in my own vocation as wife, mother and homeschool teacher I do much better when I have some time to enjoy by myself. I like reading a book or stuff on the internet, but I need relative quiet around me to do that. It helps that I have my own sewing room so I can go in there, shut the door and work on a project when I need time to recharge.

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