The art of rest

Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash

There is definitely an art to taking a day off.

For just about my whole career as a pastor, I’ve taken Fridays off. I know that cuts against the grain. I suspect that most pastors take Monday off, exhausted from Sunday worship and other activities. But I really like Mondays. They are far, far from Sunday. They give me a chance to get a jump on the week. And everyone thinks I take Monday off, so I don’t get a lot of phone calls or other interruptions.

But taking Friday off doesn’t mean it’s easy to take Friday off. It’s not really easy to take any day off. Even if I am totally prepared for Sunday, my brain churns with thoughts of things I need to do, people I need to visit, people who are sick or dying, people I haven’t seen for a while, or people who want to see me. That last category of people includes those who have put off emailing, texting or calling me the entire week.

I have learned the necessity of turning everything off on Friday. My phone, email, and my mind. It will all be there on Saturday, right? So it’s OK to sleep. Take a nap. Read a book. Go for a walk. Watch TV. Or do nothing at all.

That’s hard. I feel like I need to make the most of my time. Doing nothing doesn’t seem like a good use of time. But some words keep echoing in my mind: “If you are available all the time, you aren’t really available.” Unless I have time to rest, I won’t be effective during my non-rest times.

I have a few members who will ask me, “So, when are you taking vacation?” They know. They understand. They know I cannot be at my best if I never, ever get a chance to rest.

So I’m working on it. I’m turning off my phone. I’m staying off my computer. I’m trying to stay off the church-grid. I’m still learning how to “sabbath,” that is, rest.

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