Rest is very subjective. Everyone approaches it differently. Some people find rest solely in doing nothing, literally they need to stay home in their pj’s and do nothing. Some people are rejuvenated by spending time with family or catching up with old friends. They enjoy activities that are good for the soul and overflow to the mind and body.

Other people find they are rested simply by sleeping in a few days. Still others find rest by doing actual things; going fly fishing, or going on an action packed Disney vacation. Regardless of how people find rest, it’s a well known fact that people need it.

repair and restore

I’m not talking about sleeping the proper amount of hours in a night. I’m talking about mental and physical decompression, where the brain and body can repair and restore. This is necessary to avoid burn out and to operate at our maximum levels of creativity and productivity. But like I said, rest is subjective. Everyone has a differing opinion on how you can achieve it, when you need it, and definitely on how much is enough. On most ministry staff’s, there is often a disconnect between the senior or lead pastor and the people that work for them on this topic.

if we were to poll executive leadership and church staff on their opinions about work and rest after the holidays, i’m sure it would look something like this

what the lead pastor thinks

“If I’m running after ministry as hard as I can, then everyone should be running at the same pace as me. This is the time of year when we have the most influence, why doesn’t my church staff get this is not the time to rest.”

what the church staff thinks the lead pastor thinks

“The Lord will lift them up on eagles’ wings, when they run they won’t grow weary because they are doing the Lord’s work, this is why they don’t need more vacation days.”

what the church staff leaders think

“I’m running as fast as I can, please don’t expect more of me. I would love to have a few days off after the holidays. Please!”

what the lead pastor thinks the staff thinks

“I would just really love to do the most amount of work possible for the least amount of money. Since I’m working for the Lord, I know I’ll get all my rewards and rest in heaven.”

Hopefully you got a nice chuckle out of those thoughts, because while they are emphasized for humor, those types of thoughts are based in reality. There is often a disconnect between lead pastors and their staff about time off and vacation days and the desire for rest after a busy time. It can not only lead to burnout, but frustration and jealousy, which is why they need to be addressed objectively and well before the holiday season.

here are 2 thoughts for all staff to consider

1) it’s not personal, it’s business

If you are a paid staff person, this is your job. Yes, you are in ministry, which is a slightly different kind of work, but this is still your professional workplace. If your pastor says it’s time to sprint, then sprint. If like this past year (2015) you desire to have Christmas week off and yet the weekend falls the day after Christmas, guess what? You might still have to work the weekend, because this is business. So, give it all you’ve got, because we know the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So work.

If you are in executive leadership and you want your staff to know it’s not personal but it’s business, then prepare ahead of time like a business. Set a clear expectation of what days you want your staff to be available and present. Set the times and dates of your Christmas events WELL in advance, so people know what to expect. You don’t gain any respect by being wishy-washy, waiting until the last minute, or going with a case-by-case scenario perspective.

2) your church staff is like family, so it’s personal

I love this point as the counter point to the previous thought. If you’re a pastor, a shepherd, a leader of people, then you should know that your staff will help you achieve the vision you have for your church MORE when they feel loved, and shepherded and cared for BY YOU. This means you love them more than you love yourself. This means if you desire to have a day off, they probably do too. And you should give it to them.

avoiding burnout - rest after the holidays

When you delight and wonder your staff with extra care and surprises, their loyalty to you will be deeper. – Stacia Stall

When you delight and wonder your staff with extra care and surprises, their loyalty to you will be deeper. You’re not winning anything by withholding from them. And if you feel your staff is lazy or underperforming, stopping them from resting isn’t the solution, dealing with that problem directly at a different time is the solution.

This also applies to volunteers. Loving them, caring for them, and not making them feel guilty when they request off, goes a long way to building loyalty and longevity in volunteer teams.

Our work is personal. All of it. We are in the relationship business. That’s the business of pointing people to God, so we can all live lives worthy of the calling He’s given us. We are in the business of caring for one another, so that we can experience as much of the kingdom of God on earth NOW as we can. When we care for one another, we will be more inclined to work hard for one another and more inclined to help one another rest.

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Stacia Stall

Stacia Stall

Chief Creative Officer

Stacia has over a decade of ministry experience, with the majority of that time leading next generation change. She has experience leading almost one hundred volunteers, and developing curriculum for kids and students. Stacia has a B.S. in Church Ministries and Biblical Studies, as well as experience educating in an elementary public school environment. She is also immensely creative and accomplished in teaching children about the wonder of God.