I am a pastor. And, much of what I address regarding marriage and family is heavily influenced by what I experience as a pastor. But, I do not mean what I experience with other families. Much of what I write about is what I experience with my own marriage and family. To be more specific, much of what I write about is what I experience inside of me.
Why do I tell you this? This is my first piece of public writing in almost six months. Why was there such a gap? Because I was overwhelmed as a pastor. Since early summer, pastoring has been a constant kick in the teeth. There have been upset and disgruntled church members, sick persons, families who have experienced death and tragedy, staff members retiring, and staff members being hired. On top of all that, my mom experienced a couple of health scares that required me to travel out of town on a moment’s notice. Oh and somewhere in all of that was Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So, I haven’t written anything marriage or family-related in almost six months because I needed to take a break. I needed to take a break for me. I needed to take a break for my marriage. I needed to take a break for my family. I decided in the midst of all the turmoil that I must zero in and focus on what really matters; God, my family, my friends. I could write about marriage and family later.
I have two very core practical values that led me in my decision to take a break; care for others and living life in a Godly rhythm. These values come directly from Scripture; the Greatest Commandment in Mark 12 and the principal of Sabbath displayed in Genesis 1 and 2. The Greatest Commandment calls us to love God with all of who we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The principle of Sabbath calls us to live life in a Godly rhythm. If I am living life in a Godly rhythm, I work and then rest all the while trusting God while I rest.
As I wrestled over taking a break from writing, I concluded:
If I am going to play my part in creating a healthy marriage and family, I must love my wife and family first while creating rhythms in my life where I unplug as a pastor/writer/counselor and trust God to still work without my pastoring, writing, and counseling. (Like he needs my help. But, I sure am glad he wants it.)
I write today because my suspicion is that there are many of us who, for whatever reason, need to take a break. Maybe it’s a break from work, the PTO, volunteering at the local shelter, serving at church, or the community board. At first, taking a break from all these noble causes might sound counterintuitive. They are, after all, good causes. But, in the words of Scripture, “What does it profit a man if he gains the world, but loses his soul.” In other words, what does it profit any of us if we are good volunteers in the community or servants at church or the creator of a marriage ministry if we lose focus on what matters most; God, family, and friends?
In other words, what does it profit any of us if we are good volunteers in the community or servants at church or the creator of a marriage ministry if we lose focus on what matters most; God, family, and friends?
If you are feeling the need to take a break,
- Ask yourself, “What truly is essential in my life?”
- Reflect upon, “What are my core values that might help me answer that question?”
- Be vulnerable and share your feelings with your family. Engage your spouse and children. Maybe they are feeling the same things you are feeling. Ask them if they feel like you are “present” when at home.
- Take concrete steps to take a break. Send that email indicating that you are stepping away. Have that conversation with your church leader. Tell your loved ones that you are taking a break in order to spend more time focusing on what truly matters.
- Trust God.
I pray God meets you in the middle of your break.