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?