I have to admit that it can be difficult for me personally to take time off for vacation.
The two primary roles I have held professionally have been in sales and in pastoral ministry. In my sales career, a great deal of my income has largely been tied to commissions. I risk losing opportunities every time I leave my desk. I also have clients (and a team) depending on my efforts.
In pastoral ministry, the work simply never ends. There’s always another message to prepare, event to administrate, or pastoral issue to walk through. So, for me, taking vacation provides an opportunity to trust the Lord. I have to remember that God created us to follow a regular rhythm of work and rest (Exodus 20:9-11).
Charles Spurgeon, the nineteenth century London preacher, counseled his students to take an occasional rest from their labors for the purpose of being refreshed. In Lectures to My Students, he commented,
“He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy… A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is the next best… The ferns and the rabbits, the streams and the trouts, the fir trees and the squirrels, the primroses and the violets, the farm-yard, the new-mown hay, and the fragrant hops–these are the best medicine for hypochondriacs, the surest tonics for the declining, the best refreshments for the weary…It is wisdom to take an occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less. On, on, on for ever, without recreation may suit spirits emancipated from this ‘heavy clay’, but while we are in this tabernacle, we must every now and then cry halt, and serve the Lord by holy inaction and consecrated leisure. Let no tender conscience doubt the lawfulness of going out of harness for a while.”
This counsel has been so helpful to me over the years. What I have found is that it is often in the break from regular routines and responsibilities that I (and my family) have received the refreshment needed to continue working hard.
Whether it is a week or a day, far away or in our own backyard, time away from our labors can sharpen the saw and allow us to return to our work rejuvenated and refreshed. This in the end will be more productive than “on, on, on forever without recreation”.
With this counsel freshly in mind, my family and I are pulling away this week to spend time together in sunny Florida for a week-long family vacation.
I am planning on breathing a mouthful of sea air, enjoying a stiff walk in the wind’s face, and loving every minute with my family. I’m asking God to tend to my work this week while I tend to my soul and my family (Isaiah 64:4). I’m trusting that we can serve Him this week with holy inaction and consecrated leisure, and that in the long run we will do more by doing less.
Question: Do you see the benefits of taking time off for vacation? How have your vacations been particularly helpful in rejuvenating you to return to your regular work refreshed?