Should a pastor have a day off every week?

Here is my simple and straightforward answer…yes.  No caveats.  No disclaimers.   Just, yes.  Here are a few reasons I feel so strongly about this:

Sunday is a work day for a pastor.  I know it is the Lord’s Day.  I know some pastors are preaching on Sunday and some are not.  Regardless, while most are getting a break from their weekly grind on Sunday, the pastor is experiencing the pinnacle of it.  Sunday is a joyful day, but it is also an emotionally draining day and is far from being low-key and restful.

A pastor never really leaves work.  Regardless how we spend our evenings or how hard we try, the pastor never completely checks out.  Even if the phone does not ring or no one stops by, the sermon is still on the mind and heart, that elderly saint’s battle with cancer still weighs on the shoulders, and there just is not a clock we ever punch that magically causes us to forget about the burdens of caring for souls until 9:00 am the next morning.  Although the burdens never complete leave, a day where we can try to focus on our families and escape the daily grind is invaluable for our soul and long term ministry stamina.

A Pastor needs a weekly day where his family comes first and they know it.  There are many sacrifices and crosses to bear by the pastor’s family.  Because of this, taking a day when they know they will be “dad’s focus” helps them give dad up to the busyness of the other days. There are fewer effective ways to communicate your love for your family than for them to know there is a day for them, it is scheduled regularly, and regardless the craziness, it is coming soon.

One of the best decisions I have ever made for the benefit of my family and ministry has been to commit to a day off every week.  Only funerals, true emergencies, and a few other exceptions causes me to compromise it.

My day off is Friday because it fits best in our schedule.  Pick a day that works best for you and your family. The point is pick a day.  Let your family and church know when that will be and stick to it.   I still manage to work about 50-60 hours a week with a day off.  For that reason alone, I am so glad I take it.  My family looks forward to it.  Your family will too if you schedule it in your week and honor it.

Here  are a few other related posts:

Why should pastors regularly take time off?

How does a pastor recover from mental and emotional exhaustion?

How much vacation time should a pastor take?

 

 

Posted in Home and Family, The Pastor's Soul
15 comments on “Should a pastor have a day off every week?
  1. Sam Loveall says:

    The most common objection to a day off that I hear is related to the “working on Sunday” issue:

    “But we’re here at church, too! We have to come to elders’ meetings, we have to teach Sunday School, we’re giving up our Sundays just like you!”

    My rejoinder: “Yes, but you don’t have to. You are free to take off any weekend you care to, to go to the beach, visit relatives for the weekend, enjoy a fishing trip once a month, just get lazy and stay in on a Sunday. I don’t have those options. i have to be there, or I don’t keep my job.”

    • Ralph says:

      Reasonable point…the pastor generally has less freedom with regards to whether they can be away on any given Sunday. But along with the article the point is based on some sort of separation between the life of the (paid) pastor within the Church and everyone else. However other members in the Church also carry around the weight of living and serving within the Christian community. Sunday can be a busy day for other Christians. Other Christians should have time focused on their families. Fundamentally all Christians, pastor and non-pastor are called to the same behaviours, loves and concerns. Just look at the qualifications in scripture for an elder. Practically all of them, with the exception of teaching, can and should apply to any Christian. Of course the paid pastor can spend far more time thinking and focusing on the shared life of the Church….and they have a special charge before God and will give an account as pastors. However this doesn’t lessen the calling on every Christian to live Godly lives. I’m happy that the role of the pastor is recognised and honoured by the Church, but recognise that nearly all the expected behaviours of the pastor should also be present through out the Church.

      • Donny says:

        You clearly are not married to a Pastor! I am and for the sack of the flock, our family and himself my husband needs a day off!

  2. Just curious, do you take Saturday off as well? Are you suggesting a 5 day or 6 day work week? Thinking through the issue myself. Thanks.

    • briancroft says:

      I probably work close to 40 hours Tuesday – Thursday. I work from about 8 am – 2 pm on Saturday and try to have everything done for Sunday by then so they get the rest of the day. Of course, there are other things going on Sat. that can easily make it a 8-12 hour work day. Even more of a reason why Fridays are so precious to them and me.

      • Matt B. says:

        It’s a curious thing, I find, for non-sabbatarian folks to argue in favor of a day off for the pastor – or anyone. Could it be a half-day? Or two? Why is it 1 in 7 that everyone appeals to and not just “sanctified wisdom?”

  3. Don G says:

    I agree there should be a day off, but how does that day actually work? Do you not answer phone calls or email? What if there’s an emergency? If you aren’t at least checking messages, you risk having some people feel ignored.

    I’ve been frustrated before about a pastor’s schedule. Ultimately, I think I want a pastor who is giving himself to the church and leading by example in how he cares for his family, how he works, and how he rests. Work hard. Rest well. Shepherd your family. That’s what lay people need to learn from “vocational” ministers. If my pastor is barely eeking out 40 hours a week and spends his offday playing video games, that’s not helpful.

    • briancroft says:

      Great question. The balance I have learned over the years is I have times in the evening and my day off to check email and voicemail. If the phone rings on my day off, I typically don’t answer. I use to answer it and get caught on the phone in the middle of a family activity. I was amazed at the statement of love it makes to my wife when I don’t answer my phone during dinner and on my day off. She is glad for me to have times to check messages, but used to fail at this and communicated the opposite to her for years as I would continue to answer calls throughout the day that was suppose to be hers. When I check a message and it is a pressing matter, she is most always encouraging for me to deal with it if it needs to be.

    • Jeff says:

      40 Hours! What size and where is your church? I average about 50 hours a week, meaning I go through seasons of 60+ hour weeks and through ones of 40-45 hour weeks. On top of that I do not count my usual prayer and devotional time as “work,” as I have seen some pastors and data collectors do.

      Therefore I find your hypothetical musings offensive and unhelpful at best, hypocritical and damaging in the least.

  4. Kevin Subra says:

    I think the key in your article is, “I still manage to work about 50-60 hours a week with a day off.” I think that a pastor should work as many hours as any other elder or leader in the church. If I, as a pastor, expect others to work 40+ hours a week (+ travel time, overtime, etc.) AND serve in some meaningful capacity (or capacities) AND read their Bibles, pray, spend time with family, etc. beyond that time, I should do no less than the same.

    I see so many pastors who post about their endless time off (with family, hunting, traveling, etc.) and wonder when they do anything as a shepherd.

    A related question which you might help with: What about those that work full-time and pastor “on the side” in bi-vocational situations? I am “one of those,” and I have a very hard time even thinking of a “day off,” as my Saturdays are occupied with Sunday preparations, and Monday–Friday are work day.

    Thanks for your articles.

    • Bill says:

      This is a great point Kevin, and one that I find often gets overlooked in these discussions. Many of the active people in the church body work long hours Monday through Friday/Saturday and also have committments to serve (without financial compensation yet still without the option of ‘taking off’) on Sunday. Is it appropriate to encourage our church family members to also abide by this principle? If so, I think its reasonable to expect that many church functions and ministries might see an impact. Perhaps that would be an acceptable trade for the overall physical wellbeing of the body.

    • Bill Walker says:

      I think the question is not “how many hours does a man in the congregation work,” but “how many hours OUGHT he to work?” I have known plenty of men who overwork. Their families and devotional lives suffer. They also do too much in church – can I say that? They do. Many don’t do a thing, many do too much. They need to attend to their families more, and their hobbies less, and they need less evening committments. And if something suffers, what is it? Often their devotional life. Do you want a pastor whose prayer and Bible reading get crowded out?

      I think a pastor’s hours ought to be in line with what a man’s life OUGHT to look like, not what it DOES look like. If it’s not, how will anyone learn?

  5. Tim says:

    As a lay leader I’ve had these discussions with our pastors. But the conversations did not go as you might think. I was the one telling the pastors they needed to take time off.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  6. Jason Van Bemmel says:

    I take Friday and Saturday off. I see no reason why a pastor should not have a weekend like everyone else. I am still often at church events on Friday or Saturday, so it’s not an iron-clad absolute. I will not feel guilty about making time for my family, including my three young children.

8 Pings/Trackbacks for "Should a pastor have a day off every week?"
  1. […] A few months ago I got turned onto the blog Practical Shepherding. I have been immensely blessed by the site over the past couple months. Here is a great post on Pastors Getting a Day Off. […]

  2. […] to rest. Brian Croft and Darryl Dash have expressed the pastor’s need for Sabbath very well here and here, respectively. I hope they encourage (and exhort) you, too. […]

  3. […] How to love your Pastor How to love your pastor was written by Paul Tautges’ co-pastor, a man with 50 years pastoral experience! And this post by Brian Croft adds a further way to love your pastor: Ensure he takes a day off each week. […]

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  6. […] you’re a pastor, take a day off. Don’t even think about a sabbatical if you’re not resting regularly. (“My […]

  7. […] Croft has a post titled “Should a pastor have a day off every week?”  It is short and gives good reasons for a day off.  Croft himself takes Friday […]

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