The “Day Off” Dichotomy
It’s a bit of a paradox. When I work a Saturday, and often I do (I will this week and half the day next Saturday), I try to compensate (for my children and for my long-term health) by taking the following Monday “off.” The idea is rest or play or housework or maybe a trip ‘down south’ to see my dad. That day is good. It’s needed. It’s healing.
But……Sunday still comes.
Actually Tuesday comes and if I haven’t done my usual Monday work then really I’m behind the second I hit the church doors Tuesday (for the 10:00 standing Tuesday morning meeting) which means I’m behind the whole week. Even though tomorrow is Labor Day (ironically titled today since we rest FROM our labor on Labor Day), Tuesday will come — so will Wednesday — so will the rest of the week. You see, every week harbors the same amount of work and the same amount of hours — add the unexpected and emergencies — the “out-of-left-field” runny noses and “belly” aches.
A day off no longer means a day off. It means a hectic rest of the week.
It’s a misnomer, really, that pastoral work is a 24/7 job. We HAVE to sabbath like anyone else. The fact that many of us have embraced the misnomer has lead to very high insurance premiums, high risk of alcoholism, heart attack, depression, and suicide among clergy, and higher divorce rates in marriages where one (or more) spouse is in “the circle.” Resting from our labor, dropping the 24/7, setting appropriate boundaries, taking care of our families, taking a “real” vacation from time to time (I never, ever have), delegating (making disciples that make disciples that makes disciples who are ALL in ministry together) — these are musts.
I don’t want to die at 40. I don’t want my kiddos to hate the church. I want to be mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy for myself, for my family, AND for the flock.
I don’t think I know best, yet, how to make that happen — not really or practically. I know in ethereal, beyond-reality, terms they used in our “Sabbath Keeping for Pastors” class in seminary, but now in the thick of it, I don’t know.
Is it a dichotomy for you too? Just me? How have you made it work?