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Pastors Who Never Rest & Pastors Who Never Work

By Wisdom Moon on April 16, 2010

Author: Wisdom Moon

During my 10 years in church work (and growing up in church as a PK) I've seen pastors on both extremes when it comes to a day of rest (a.k.a. the Sabbath): pastors who never stop working and pastors who never work...and everything in between.

I know that being a pastor can be one of the toughest jobs in the world because of all the challenges and pressures that come with it. I've seen senior pastors who never observe the Sabbath and hardly ever take time off. They work 60-80 hours a week and expect the same from their staff. They consider Sundays as a volunteer day and don't count it as a work day for the pastoral staff. They always have good excuses for not taking a day off (i.e. "a church crisis"). I've worked at a church like this before. I was expected to work six days a week: Tuesday through Sunday. If there was a meeting on a Monday night, I was expected to be there as well.

I've also worked at a church where the pastors hardly worked during the week. They seldom showed up to the church office during the week and they were never reachable by phone or email. I had one senior pastor who I only saw on Sunday mornings. After he got done preaching he would slip out the back door to his secret parking space and drive off never to be seen or heard from again until the next Sunday. During the week he was usually busy playing golf. (true story!)

Not enough pastors have healthy boundaries between family and ministry. Many pastors consider ministry higher priority than their spouse and children. I believe this is wrong and unbiblical. Somehow we pastors have convinced ourselves that it's okay to not take a day off. We preach about the ten commandments, but every week we ignore the one that tells us to observe the Sabbath. (Sadly, one common pattern I've seen with workaholic pastors is that their health deteriorates quickly.)

If you are a pastor that does not take at least one day off during the week, I'm sure you don't mean to disobey God. I'm sure you are very dedicated to God's work. However, I strongly recommend that you make a change in your life. First and foremost, God calls you to love and lead your family. If your household is screwed up, your ministry won't last. The Lord commands us to take a day of rest; it's not a suggestion. He commands it because He loves us and He knows what's best for us. If you want to avoid burnout and have longevity in ministry, please...observe a day of rest every week.

If you DO observe a day of rest, what are some ways you ensure you have a full day of rest? What healthy boundaries do you have setup that may be helpful for you to share with other pastors? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Wisdom Moon

Wisdom Moon

Wisdom is a husband, father, worship leader, songwriter, and Founder/CEO of All About Worship. He was born in South Korea, but spent most of his life in Silicon Valley (California), and currently resides in Nashville, TN with his wife and three kids. Wisdom has been involved in worship ministry for over 20 years. For more about Wisdom, visit WisdomMoon.com