I have heard discussion from pastors, church members, and parachurch ministry leaders on the topic of how much vacation time a pastor should take and when (if ever) a pastor should be given a more lengthy respite in the form of a sabbatical. I’ll share my thoughts, and I’d like to hear yours as well.
My thoughts on vacation
Pastors should take a minimum of two weeks away from their churches annually to clear their heads and connect with their families, taking more time (if possible) if they have young children at home. Parents shape their children’s character and help form their children’s memories, and vacations are those times when children get 100 percent of parents’ time and focus—unlike when their father in the trenches of ministry. Ideally, after a few years at a church, pastors should have leadership in place that will function well in their absence; taking an extended vacation demonstrates pastors’ trust in those leaders. A tenured pastor (more than 10 years) receiving four weeks of vacation annually should be normative.
My thoughts on sabbaticals
Every five or 10 years it would be wise for a church to send their pastor away for two to three weeks to regroup, refresh, and plan for ministry. One pastor whom I respect would take off for two weeks every three years, spending time praying and planning over his preaching plan for the upcoming three years.
One parting comment: vacations and sabbaticals are a time to unwind and refresh, which infers that there is no such thing as a lazy pastor. This inference, however, is not always the case, so I would encourage pastors to make sure they are diligent self-starters who have earned the reward of some relaxation in the form of a vacation or sabbatical.
What are your thoughs?