Should a pastor take 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:

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) A pastor needs a regular time where his family knows they are first

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 The Pastor's Soul
13 comments on “Should a pastor take a day off every week?
  1. Brian says:

    Yes! Absolutely! Are there those who would say “No”?

    • Tony Clack says:

      I can only remember one day ,and that was halfe a day with my father except for the two weeks annual leave.All other days were involved with the Army.It was all for God and the Army. But we were still in his thoughts and he did try at times.

  2. Doug says:

    There are those who are bi-vocational whose day off from one job is the only day they have to do the work of the other.

    If you can take a day off, do it and thank the Lord for that blessing. Pray for those who can’t.

    I appreciate the post.

  3. Steve S says:

    I agree to this!

    I actually take a day and a half off (still manage 50-55 hr/week) because I find it very hard to get all they “other” things done without it. The half day is trying to get everything done to enjoy our Lords Day during the week and be able to focus on family. For example mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, repairs to the house, and any other errands so we can enjoy the rest day together.

    I know not every pastor can do this but we’ve been blessed that we can.

  4. Good reminders, Brian. I’ve taken Fridays off almost since beginning pastoral ministry over 29 years ago. It presses me to ‘get things done’ prior to the weekend, even though Saturday is usually the ‘catch-up’ day: polishing up message, going over Adult class notes, the occasional special meeting or class or gathering.

    I’m wondering if you’d ever address the issue of sabbaticals: how often? how to get your church to grant one without being the one to initiate the idea?

  5. Nick says:

    I have a question in response to this post. Is this day off in addition to having Saturday off or instead of that? So what I’m asking is, do you believe a pastor should have 1 or 2 days off a week?

    • Brian Croft says:

      Great question. A pastor needs at least one full day off during the week because Sunday is a work day and typically some work is done on Saturday. I try to only work a half day on Saturdays but as you know church activities and other church issues come up on Saturday that doesn’t secure that day to be a consistent day to rest weekly. One full day Monday-Friday is what I recommend. Then work details with Saturday out with your church and wife.

  6. Melody says:

    All very interesting and I completely agree. The thing that always pops into my mind when I read these things is “Do they also make sure that their wives get a full day of rest?” While being a dad is also full time, it doesn’t usually bring with it the constant thoughts of “what will I feed them the next meal?” Women may not naturally think to work things out so that they can completely rest one day. And I should add that cooking is both work and hobby for some so it isn’t necessarily a burden but there may be other things like shopping, laundry, making beds that get pushed into a day of rest.

  7. Mike says:

    How many faithful members of local churches work 50+ hours per week AND spend another 10+ hours/week ministering to their body. At least a vocational pastor doesn’t have to totally change mindset from bricklaying or software design to interpersonal ministry. The volunteer who manages Sunday School assignments and teachers is probably working harder on a Sunday than the pastor who gets up and preaches and then goes to lunch with someone.

    The pastor’s day off should be as guarded as the days off of his non-vocational leaders and no more. If the whole band of brothers is committed to guarding each others’ rest, then that’s the best case scenario.

    • Melody says:

      Mike

      I’m not a pastor and I’m not married to one but I do know that their lives and ministry is much involved than preaching and having lunch with someone.

      When us “lay people” minister to the body is it really supposed to go in the “work” column? It’s supposed to be done with love. It is no different than being a mother. We don’t get a day of rest from that. A pastor’s job is at least as emotionally draining as that and he has his own family to manage as well.

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  1. […] in Sociology. He also undertook some graduate work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article is from his blog, Practical Shepherding, and is used with […]

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