It’s happened again. You’ve taken your weekly day off, or you’ve just returned from a short vacation and find yourself even more tired than you were before your time away from the church. And it’s not just physical-I-need-extra-coffee tired. You’re “soul tired.” You’re tired of the staff you work with, tired of the people you serve, tired of meetings. And, if you were really honest, you’d admit that you’re a little tired of prayer, Bible study and the songs on Sunday morning.
The advantage of deep soul-weariness is that we can then use that to garner the sympathy of the people we serve. We can convince ourselves that being a pastor is the most difficult job in the world and we can feel good about the “sacrifices,” that we are making for the kingdom. Really, it’s a win-win. It’s doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, and there are cheap rewards… but if we are going to maximize our soul-weariness, some steps can be taken to get the most out of the experience.
4 Ways to Waste Your Day Off
1. Avoid a Plan
The first step towards wasting your time away from the church is to avoid a plan. Seriously, you plan all week – meetings, ministries, schedules, weddings, funerals – the list seems to never end of things which must be planned. So, just wake up any time you want. Make no plans, see what the day brings. If laying in bed and watching all four hours of The Today Show is what you feel like doing, do it. Want to catch up on the television shows that you’ve put off watching all week? Become a TV junky for the day. Whatever you do, don’t plan out the day. Don’t plan ways to feed your soul, exercise your body or deepen your relationship with your spouse and children. Just chill.
2. Stay Plugged In
And while you’re chilling out, waiting for the day to present itself, make sure that you keep your phone in it’s holster, planted firmly on your hip. All week you feel you’re a slave to the thing – make sure that if you’re going to waste your day – that you keep it close. Check your email. Check Facebook. Stay plugged in to the grid. Let your parishioners know that even though it may be your day off, you’re still available. You’re still willing to return their emails and calls. Actually it works really well – don’t make a plan, and then allow the next crisis-of-the-moment steal your day away. In this scenario, you not only waste your day, but you end up working. A soul-depleting double play, if you will.
3. Don’t Exercise
And since you are just chilling, waiting to be called on for the next crisis, make sure that you don’t do anything physical. Let’s be honest, we’re really not cut out for it, are we? For 40-50 hours a week our job involves sitting. Sitting to study, sitting to meet with people, sitting through another meeting; the only time we do any amount of standing is on Sunday morning for our 40 minutes in front of the church. And I don’t know about you, but I keep a stool close by, just in case I start to feel tired.
Oh, I hear the excuses – knee injury this, sore shoulder that, but I’m not talking about training for a triathlon. I’m talking about any movement at all: gardening, taking a hike, doing a project around the house. If you’re serious about feeling lethargic on your first day back, you need to make sure that the word sedentary becomes your motto and a La-Z-Boy is your logo.
4. Don’t Get a Hobby
Which brings us to the final piece of advice for wasting time off. Avoid anything that resembles a hobby or an interest outside of the church. Make sure that all your thoughts are consumed with everything going on in your church. Guard against anything that might be a breath of fresh air from the daily grind of the pastorate. Force yourself to keep replaying conversations – either real or fantasized about. Better yet, bring some work home – a sermon left unfinished for Sunday, an article that needs written for the denomination publication, a class that needs prepped for.
And because it’s your day to chill, keep putting it off until late in the day so that it consumes your mind, but it never actually gets checked off the “to-do” list.
Add all these ideas together and when you arrive at your office after a week’s vacation, wearing a white shirt to accent your tan, you’ll guarantee that your soul will still feel empty, you’ll be just as frustrated with that extra-grace-requited parishioner and all the ritual of church will feel just as stale. And that will be a soul weariness that no amount of coffee can perk up.
Of course, you could do just the opposite and experience significant renewal.