I had lunch Wednesday with a former student from TEDS and now a thriving pastor in Ann Arbor, Ken White. Ken was one of those students who had the gifts to be either a pastor or a professor, and I’m glad he chose the former. He has been in the area for a week studying and getting spiritually refreshed. I consider study breaks for pastors (very) important.
Why? Because the grind of pastoring can sap the spiritual strength out of even the noblest of pastors. The demand to come up with new ideas, new sermons, fresh approaches, week after week, month after month, and then come up with stimulating words for Christmas, Holy Week, and the rest — well, it isn’t possible for many folks. Then add to this the interruptions of the pastoral life (funerals, weddings, crises, goofy things, staff issues, building problems, I could go on). Then add what is even more important: a family life. Wife/husband, children, moms and dads, siblings. Complicating this for most pastors is the sense that they are falling behind in basic reading for pastors. (Part of the reason for this blog is to read books for pastors and get some of the ideas on the table for them to think about without having to read it all.) Add it all up and here’s what you get:
The need for the normal pastor to have two week-long study breaks each year, with no one permitted to call them. To do what? Pray, think, study, ruminate, listen to some good music and some good sermons and some good lectures.
Now, let me add this: study breaks are not vacation time for golf and sailing and whatever. It is time to rejuvenate, get a new set of ideas into your being, and get ready for another set of months’ of pastoral striving.
So, here’s my suggestion: make a proposal to your Board (whatever you call it) that your pastor be given a study break. You and the pastor will rise up and call me blessed!