Pastoral vacations are tricky. Many times it is more work to go on vacation than to just stay home! You work double time to tie up loose ends before you leave, you bring your cell phone and laptop while you are on vacation, and then it takes you three weeks to catch up when you get back! I’m sure you can relate to this plight. Having said all that, family vacations are a necessity for pastors. At a minimum, a pastor’s family needs a week or two per year when they see Dad for an extended period of time.

I’ve heard many pastors bragging that they don’t take their vacations. They are so busy “for the Lord” that they can’t take vacations. This attitude is not honoring to God; neither is it a badge of honor for the pastor! So how can we solve the problem of neglecting vacations? The answer is not easy, and it is not universal. Let me share one idea I learned from my parents that I have replicated in my home. In a word—timeshare. I know, a bad stigma follows even the mention of the word! However, hear me out on this.

First off, it is important to get a good deal. The best deals around are resales that are offered at a real estate office at a resort. Buying a new timeshare can be expensive. Buying one on the used market can be cheap. I don’t recommend getting into a timeshare unless you get a great deal. The benefits are numerous:

1. You pay maintenance fees throughout the year. So, in essence, you have a prepaid vacation. If you don’t use it, you lose it, so it has the effect of forcing you to take the vacation.

2. You will stay in a nicer place than if you were to spend a week in a hotel somewhere, but pay the same amount.

3. Timeshare resorts are fantastic places for families. They usually offer various amenities that encourage your family to spend time together.

4. You pay for a week, so you’ll tend to take the whole week. Many times people will shortchange a week and only vacation for a few days. Since a timeshare is prepaid, you feel obligated to stay for the entire week.

5. As a timeshare owner, you earn the ability to buy “extra” vacations sometimes for as little as $250 for the week. This gets you a one- to two-bedroom condo at a resort.

6. Your unit can be resold on the used market if you decide to do something different or need the extra money.

This is personal experience. Again, the key is to buy-in at a reduced cost on the resale market. Our timeshare is in August every year, and we go to the same place. We might spend our other weeks of vacation visiting family or going other places, but we can always count on this week in August to be a truly restful and family-enriching time. Please take the time to share your experiences or approaches regarding vacations.

I was just thinking . . . we’ll be leaving in about nine weeks. I can’t wait!