Barter anything you need to in order to have this time away. Learn the art of Friday to Saturday getaways. Take a working retreat. Explain to your church board that your work will be more effective if you’re regularly disconnected from the world and congregation. And it’s true—you have science in your corner. According to a 2010 study, “Staying Well and Engaged When Demands Are High,” detachment from high-demand work predicts less exhaustion, greater well-being, andbetter work engagement. This is so true that at least one company pays its employees to take their families on vacation.
5. Plan Ahead
If you want Friday and Saturday off, you can’t be writing your sermon Saturday night. To combat this, I try to stay a week ahead in research and outlining. Then, on Monday and Tuesday, finishing touches go in, and I begin research for the next week.
It’s surprising how easily this became routine for me, a practiced procrastinator. Surprising, too, is the decreased level of stress that comes from knowing all is in place by Wednesday afternoon. This coming from a woman who forgets her own birthday sometimes. If I can do it, you can do it.
6. Get Creative
While Sunday morning is certainly a priority (and I love preaching), I have to balance it with other valuable and viable work. Some Sunday mornings we have discussion groups on previous sermons rather than a message. On others, we simply invite the community in for breakfast. Some weeks we have other gifted members of the congregation deliver messages or testimonies. When I’m not always up front, I have the chance to develop other mission-focused ministries that strengthen the church.
There are no rules for a church service, only traditions. When we step into church leadership, unexpectedly or not, we step into the opportunity to express new priorities and empower new leaders. Some of us have more leeway to make changes than others, but we can all get creative in our roles.
In the year since becoming a solo pastor, I have never again had time for a clean house, let alone a surprise weekend trip. “My time” looks different than I had planned. But leading this church is definitely where I am meant to be right now, and it looks like my time here has just started.
Jill Richardson is a writer, speaker, pastor, and mom of three. She likes to travel, grow flowers, break into random musical numbers, and read everything. She believes in Jesus, grace, restoration, Earl Grey, the Cubs, and dark chocolate. She blogs at jillmrichardson.com.