Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Demanding a Day Off

Whether or not a pastor should be given a day off was the topic of an article by Brian Croft that I came across via Tim Challies. The timing of coming across the article is interesting in light of my recent post on the Sabbath and a conversation that my Senior Pastor and I were just having. In the article Pastor Croft gives three reasons that a pastor should take a regular day off every week.

The first is because "Sunday is a work day for a pastor." Croft goes on to point out that while Sunday is a day of relaxation for most people, it is a work day for the pastor. My pastor and I had a conversation in the past week on how draining Sunday can be. My experience is that I have exerted more mental and emotional energy on the days that I preach than I exerted in any single day of working in the business world. I am not saying this to deny how difficult and stressful working in the business world can be (it can be far more stressful than I ever experienced in my 4 years of finance company work and 10 years of retail management) but rather I say this simply to dispel any notions that Sunday is an easy work day for pastors.

The second reason that Pastor Croft gives is that "a pastor never really leaves work."
"Regardless how we spend our evenings or how hard we try, the pastor never completely checks out...there just is not a clock we ever punch that magically causes us to forget about the burdens of caring for souls until 9:00 am the next morning."
Even in social settings most of our church members call our pastor by the title "Pastor." It is a sign of respect for him as well as for his office. But it is also a subtle reminder of his work and that he is always on the clock. He might not be actively functioning as a pastor at that time but someone is always watching and evaluating him as a pastor.

In the same way, the elders at our church have decided that our pastor does not need to preach on the Sunday immediately following a vacation. In the past our pastor would get back from vacation on Friday or Saturday and have to preach the following Sunday. This meant that during his time off he wasn't actually off. Even if the sermon was already written he was still spending part of his time off preparing for work.

The third reason that Pastor Croft gives is that "a pastor needs a weekly day where his family comes first and they know it." One of the qualifications of an Elder is that "He must manage his own household well." This is impossible if the pastor is not allowed to take time to be with his family.

I think that we as a church should not just allow our pastors to take days off but rather that we should demand that they do so. The elders should keep the pastor accountable for both taking a day off as well as using it as a day off. Not only do our pastors have a responsibility to the church but the church has a responsibility to be good stewards of our pastors.

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