3 reasons to unplug during a vacation
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
With all the chaos and uncertainty we've faced this year, we could all use a few days to relax and recharge. Hopefully, you'll be able to take some time off once Christmas services are over (whatever those end up looking like). While it's tempting to stay plugged in to what's going on at the office, there are a few reasons why you should avoid work email while on vacation.
Reason No. 1: Your family needs you
A quick, easy way to make your spouse and kids feel like they're not as important to you as the church is to focus on work while on vacation. If you must, check your messages once or twice a day. Go ahead and turn off notifications so you're not tempted to check messages. Then, enjoy the blessing that is your family (even when the kids are driving you nuts).
Reason No. 2: You need to recharge
Vacations are intended for rest and fun — both of which recharge your body, mind, and spirit. Even if your time off after Christmas is a staycation, you can still leverage this time to recharge before the upcoming year of ministry.
However, if you interrupt your time off by checking email and responding to questions, you're not getting the full benefit of your vacation. You're actually robbing your staff, volunteers, and congregation of a rested and refreshed leader when you don't fully relax during a vacation. Which leads me to the third reason…
Reason No. 3: Your team needs you to set the standard
If you're the pastor or leader of a ministry area, your team looks to you for the standard. They will see how you handle various situations and will likely follow your example. With that in mind, do you want team members who come back from vacation rested and excited to dive back into ministry? Or, do you want them still exhausted when they get back to the office? I'm quite certain you'd prefer the first option.
Now, you may have objections to this idea.
"I'll have a ton of emails in my inbox when I get back if I don't stay on top of it."
"There are issues that may come up that I'm the only person who can handle."
Here are a couple of options to manage these challenges:
1. Guard the inbox. Yes, you probably will have plenty of emails to handle when you return. However, you can be proactive to get ahead of this before you leave. First, make sure your staff knows your vacation dates and that you will not be available unless it's an extreme emergency (the building is on fire, etc.).
Ask them to hold any non-urgent emails. Schedule one-on-one meetings with each person the week you return to answer their questions in bulk. Also, set up an email out-of-office notification and refer people to someone on your team for questions.
2. Prepare your team. True delegation requires significant time to train and mentor your team so they can handle things in your absence. If you haven’t made that investment yet, you can't solve this the day before you go on vacation. However, take some time to talk with key staff or volunteer leaders at least a week before you leave.
Discuss any issues or questions that may come up while you're gone and how you would handle those if you were present. Ask them what types of situations they're comfortable handling (and what you're comfortable with them handling) and under what circumstances you want them to contact you. Provide clear guidelines and document your instructions.
You, your family, and your church will be better served with you rested and refreshed. We should all strive to serve diligently and with excellence. Part of being able to do that is recognizing we can't be on-call 24/7 without consequences. Relax, unplug, and have fun with your family. You'll be a better leader and will enjoy ministry even more when you return.
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