"So, what do you do for fun outside of pastoring?"
Someone asked me that question many years ago and it stumped me.
I didn't know what to say, because the truth was, I didn't do anything for fun.
What I wanted to tell them was "what do you mean, fun? I'm a pastor. I don't have time for fun." Instead, I stumbled around, changed the subject and moved the conversation along.
But the question wouldn't leave me. It got me thinking. Then it got me to change my life.
I started looking for something to do outside the walls of the church. Something where I wasn't the pastor. Something fun.
For me it was hiking. I'm not coordinated enough for sports and I don't have the patience for fishing, but the steady rhythm of step-after-step on hiking trails in the great outdoors was more cathartic than I ever thought it could be.
Soon, I started enjoying more challenging hikes. Eventually, I hiked across Grand Canyon.
I fell away from hiking in the last couple of years, but I've missed it, so I'm picking it up again and remembering how good it is for me.
Why Fun Matters
If you're like me, and you put so much time into ministry that you don't have time for fun, make time.
Find something you love to do. Fishing, playing basketball, surfing, anything. (Sorry, but watching people do those things on TV doesn't count.)
We all need to do something that gets us out of pastor mode on a regular basis. Something we do with our with our bodies, not just our minds.
Too many pastors are overworked, overweight, lonely, tired and stressed. Pastoral ministry will do that to all of us if we don't step away for a while to rest, relax, recharge our batteries and have some fun.
A Sabbath Rest
If you think you or your ministry are too important for you to take a break, think again. You and your ministry are too important not to take a break.
I once heard a minister say he didn't take a day off because the devil doesn't take a day off. That may be true about the devil. But he's not my example. God is. And God took a day off. As an example for us to follow. The example of Sabbath.
Then God put it in his Top Ten list of rules for us to follow. It's right there, alongside commandments we would never think of breaking, like "Do not murder" and "Do not commit adultery." Sabbath is on that level of importance.
Sometimes we forget that the Sabbath is not just meant to be a day of worship. It's supposed to be a day of rest, too. Most pastors get a lot of the first, but not enough of the second
I know, time off to do something fun may seem like the impossible dream, especially if you're bivocational. But that's why it's even more important for you to do.
Working one job without regular breaks is hard. Working two jobs without regular breaks will break you. Especially when one of them is pastoring.
It's Time to Find the Fun
So pastor, what do you do for fun?
If you don't do anything, make it a priority to start. Even if you have to do what I did and find something you don't even know you like.
Your family will thank you. Because it will help you be a better spouse and parent.
Your body will thank you. Because it will help you get and stay healthier.
Your church will thank you. Because you'll come back a better pastor.
And God will be honored. Because you'll be honoring him with a Sabbath rest.
Think about that. When we take a break, we get to honor God, our church, our family and our own physical bodies – and have fun doing it!
I'd write more about this, but I've got to put on my hiking shoes. Grand Canyon is calling.
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