Pastors too often wear it as a badge of honor when they don’t take a day off or when their day off gets interrupted by an emergency. I say “too often” because this is not a good thing. I know because I have been guilty of it more than I wish were true. In fact, my wife started calling my day off “the day I work less”. By the way, though that is a clever saying it is not a good thing.
One of the problems with a day off is that I love what I do. Many things that I do are hard to distinguish between what is work and not work. For example, I love sports and love to attend sporting events of our local schools. When I go to these I also look for students who are participating or watching and make connection with them or their parents. So am I working or not? I sometimes shop at a certain store because I want to make contact with someone who works there, so am I working or not? You get the idea.
A regret I have from my earlier ministry is the number of times my poor planning caused me to work when it was supposed to be my day off. I am not talking about emergencies, just times when I didn’t get to something I could have earlier but since I didn’t I had to do it on my day off.
I also realize that when you are a solo pastor it is more difficult to always honor your day off. I have been solo in the past and am again right now. I have learned that my people want me to take my day off if at all possible. If you have any pastoral staff then it should be really rare for you to “have to” work on your day off.
I have also come to understand that I really need to have some quality time with God on my day off. After all, don’t we expect that of our parishioners on Sunday? Sundays are not a day off, or even an easier day, for pastoral staff. That means we need to have some Sabbath time on another day.
One of the highlights of my day off is doing things with my wife. We do things together on many other days and now that our children are grown (and on their own) we have even more opportunities throughout the week. But my day off is different. We can plan something together or just plan to do nothing together. The big thing is that we are together. I sometimes do things with someone else, but that is the exception and not the rule. I want her to know that I want to be with her and it makes my day off a very special one when we get to spend most of it together.
Days off may be hard to define at times, but they are worth the chase. Just make sure that you figure out how to catch your day off