We all know that our work can become a consuming element of our time and focus. It is ministry and it is important; but for your soul care, so is the need to protect time off from your office and work to retreat and revitalize. Be honest with yourself though, in a month, how many days do you do absolutely no work? How many times a year do you take time off to retreat? If you are like most pastors, your answer will fall between two and five for both questions. So, here are some ways to set and protect those times away.
1. Put it in the calendar—don’t compromise
The greatest killer for a day away is when you forget to take it and double-book yourself. Putting it as a regular item on your calendar will allow you to decline a potential meeting or event because you “are already booked” that day. Be confident in letting people know you are taking a day off. You are not slacking; you are preparing yourself to continue the work you have been called to. If you get flack, remind them that God rested too. That full weekend retreat you just took was not a vacation, so compensate your hours with some time to regroup.
2. Don’t do work—it will take away the distinction
Sometimes your workload can pile up and spill over into your time away. DON’T DO IT! Jesus took time to retreat to a secluded place when there were still healings and miracles to be done, so why do you feel like you cannot leave work at work?
3. Turn off or airplane mode your devices
I always get pulled into looking something up, checking my email or replying to non-emergency texts when I am taking a day off. Some people have no idea you are out of the office, others do not care and want your attention right away. We ask students to put away their phones on trips, so take your own advice and let the important people know how to reach you in an emergency. iPhones have an emergency feature that allow calls from those listed as “Favorites” in your contacts or if they call twice while you are in Do Not Disturb mode. Find the equal option on your device. Let your spouse or admin know, and then put your phone away.
4. Go somewhere you will not see people you know—they can distract and not allow you to relax
You may really like that coffee house or that park near your home, but one run in with the wrong person can turn into an hour-long conversation that has just chewed up your time off and may force you to re-engage with your work problems. Go to a nearby town, or a remote location, and find a new special place where you are unknown and can truly be off.
5. Do something you love—it will help you want to do it
Don’t make your days away arduous struggles to do nothing, because let’s be honest, you will probably not stick with that model very long. Instead, do something you enjoy at the end of your time. Make it your prize for actually taking time off. Go eat your favorite food, spend time outdoors, play some video games, watch a new movie, or add in whatever it is you normally do not take time for or that revitalizes you.
Your work will get done. God will do his thing whether you are there 24/7 or not. Don’t use current ministry fires as an excuse not to retreat and revitalize, that time will prepare you to fight those and future fires.
This article originally appeared here.