“The Preacher” is leaving town for a few days of R-&-R with “The Preacher’s Husband.” It doesn’t matter how wonderful your church is, how much you love the super-cool people who worship there, or what very-important event may be coming up…, it’s more than critical that the preacher get out of Dodge once in a while.
I was thinking about that a couple of weeks ago, in the middle of an interview with a local minister for a newspaper story I was writing. “Last week was the first time I’ve gone on vacation and missed a Sunday in six years,” he said. Like I was supposed to be some kind of a good thing.
It was early in the conversation and at that point I hadn’t yet told him that I’m married to a pastor. Sometimes it doesn’t come up at all because I can sense intuitively that it will simply spoil the interview.
But the moment he said, “Last week was the first time I’ve gone on vacation and missed a Sunday in six years,” I knew the one I needed to be talking with was his wife. I wanted to ask her what in the world was she doing?
“Good grief, woman!” I’d say. “Did nobody tell you the part about saving the preacher’s sanity once in a while? Too many of them are like my brother-in-law’s Boston terrier: they keep running until they pass out and it’s up to someone they love to make sure they stop at least long enough to get rehydrated and rested up…”
It’s one of the things Rebekah and I have done well -
We’re always good about making sure that she takes her day off every week
We’ve been careful to establish clear boundaries between work and personal time
We realized early on that a refreshed preacher is a more effective preacher
We almost always take 100% of her vacation time (we often take much of it in one block and miss three consecutive Sundays)
We understand clearly that no pastor is God’s gift for everything and everyone… that micromanagement means you really don’t trust your people… and that acting like it’s all about the preacher and the preacher is indispensable is an extreme arrogance.
What tends to happen when those things are clearly defined is that the congregation not only respects the preacher’s need for space, they tend to guard it, too. It’s win-win.
But I very much believe it’s the responsibility of the preacher’s spouse, clergy-hubby or otherwise, to make sure that there’s not only encouragement for rest and refreshment but creative planning at home.
Away from it all....
I’m not saying Rebekah’s anything like that Boston terrier – I just understand that I need to do anything and everything I possibly can to provide sanctuary and rest. I take my lead from the story of Ruth and Boaz:
“You are the relative who is supposed to take care of me. So spread the edge of your cover over me.” (Ruth 3:9)