Give Me a Break!
Facing a fall schedule that is jam-packed with activities and responsibilities? As the wife of a pastor who is also a Indiana state representative for Baptist churches, Kathy Schroeder knows the value of time off. Though originally written for pastors’ wives, pastors and ministry leaders would benefit from reading this article.
Have you and your spouse ever felt like everyone wants a piece of you, but you have no more pieces left to give? If you do, then you are not alone. Welcome to the Pastors and Wives’ Club!
Recently I went through a time when the last place I wanted to be was in the ministry. I felt so spiritually distant from the Lord that all I could do was cry out to Him in prayer, “Lord, restore unto me the joy of my salvation!” After a very stressful year of ministry, personal surgery, and having our basement made into an apartment so my mother-in-law could move in with us, I was emotionally drained and physically spent. A cloud of sadness and discontent settled over my life, and on top of this, my husband was also worn out and tense with all that was going on in our lives. God knew that we needed a break. Our vacation came at the perfect time, and the Lord was good and merciful to protect that time for us.
The stress of life and its many surprises can make us weary, but we can also become weary in doing good as we serve others. When the joy of being in the ministry drains from our hearts, it is time to find the reasons and do what is necessary to regain that joy. Maybe it just means that you stop being like Martha in all your busyness and take time to be like Mary, spending time at Jesus’ feet. Or maybe it means that you and your husband need to get outa’ Dodge!
All pastors and their wives must be aware of the dangers of overload in ministry. For those of us in it full-time, it is important to get away for an extended period in order to maintain a proper balance in life and allow our spirits to be renewed. Sadly, we have seen devastating effects in the lives of some pastors and their wives who sacrifice and work so hard for the Lord that they experience burnout. As a result, they become bitter and leave the pastorate, or they fall into immorality and disqualify themselves for ministry. Satan is out to destroy marriages and ministries, and one of the ways he does it is by subtly tempting pastors to believe that they are indispensable and that their churches can’t make it without them. This thinking puts undue strain and pressure on both the pastor and his wife.
Psalm 127:1 and 2 is a good reminder of one of God’s important steps in stress management in ministry. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” The Lord can and must be trusted with your church. It is, after all, His church and not yours, and out of His goodness He will bless it even while you are asleep or if you are away for awhile.
In Psalm 103:14, David says that the Lord Himself “knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” We can apply this verse by recognizing that we are not supermen or superwomen and that from time to time we need to get away and take a break.
Since my husband began his ministry as a pastor 30 years ago, we have taken at least a two-week vacation every one of those years. In our opinion, one week is not long enough. It takes my husband the first week just to unwind so that he can really relax and enjoy the second week and feel recharged to go back at it again. As pastors’ wives, we must gently encourage our husbands, without nagging, to get away for at least two weeks or longer. Our husbands may be fearful that their churches will fall apart while they are away, but that is not the case. Granted, there may be some new problems to deal with when he gets back into the office, but time away will be well worth it for the long haul of staying in ministry.
Ladies, you can help your husband in this area by praying for him as well as for a specific time, place, and the money for a family vacation. When our children were in middle school, I had such a strong desire to take them on a trip out west. I talked to my husband about it and began praying for God to work out all the details. He did! The church leadership agreed to give my husband a month off, and the Lord provided the exact amount of money we needed for our trip through an unexpected financial gift from someone in our family who knew nothing about our desire. So that my husband would not have any added stress, I offered to plan every detail of our vacation. All he had to do was drive, and I pointed the way.
Every vacation we have taken throughout the years has been so special for our family. What wonderful memories we have of those fun and precious times together! Vacations are also a perfect time to catch up on reading. When we pack for our getaways, my husband and I always have a stack of good Biblical books that we want to read. We appreciate all that we have learned through the years from the books that have challenged our thinking and energized our souls for a more effective ministry.
Also, don’t forget date night! What an important part of any couple’s relationship! It will strengthen your marriage to go out together once a week, if possible. I know it is hard to do this if your children are young, so every other week or even once a month might be more realistic for you. Begin praying about doing this, and ask God for what you want. Don’t necessarily wait for your husband to plan it. Know his schedule ahead of time, and surprise him with a mystery date. I have no doubt God will support you in this! After all, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.” Whether it is a walk in the park, a meal out, or just having a cup of coffee at Starbucks, God is good to give us what we need in order to help us flourish in our relationships and our ministries. So take a break! Be renewed! Have some fun, and rejoice again in the wonderful marriage and ministry God has so graciously given you.
Kathy Schroeder, pastor’s wife
Emmanuel Baptist Church
Would you like to plan a getaway? Did you know that the GARBC website has a listing of pastoral retreats? Included in this listing are Cedarly in Delafield, Wis., directed by retired GARBC Chaplain Andy and Nancy Hagen, and Fairhaven, recommended by Kathy Schroeder, author of the above article.
The GARBC Resource Center also recently learned of Chilhowee Mountain Retreat, from innkeepers Jim and Mary Haider:
Chilhowee Mountain Retreat is a bed and breakfast that offers a secluded getaway for pastors and full-time Christian workers and their spouses. After researching the issue, we found that pastors are occasionally seeking a place to escape their demanding, busy lives for a brief period of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation without a formal program requiring their attendance. Many smaller churches are unable to offer sabbatical leaves to their ministers, but can offer them a few days away during the week. Several missionaries who have stayed with us have mentioned the need for time alone with their spouse and that Chilhowie Mountain Retreat provided such a place.
Our inn is located on top of Chilhowee Mountain just outside of Maryville, Tenn. We have 10 acres of wooded, mountain forest, and our elevation is almost a half mile, which affords spectacular panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The inn offers privacy to the ministering couple seeking a place to rest. Chilhowee Mountain Retreat is easily accessible from Interstates 75, 40, and 81. We are located just south of Knoxville in east Tennessee and our property borders the National Park Foothills Parkway.
Discounted rates are available to pastors and wives; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 865.983.8511.