By Mark Dance
I recently read (and demonstrated) that a cell phone will recharge twice as fast when you put it in airplane mode. This summer I have decided to experiment with this concept on myself, since I am tired and in need of a personal recharge. To be clear, I am not tired of ministry; simply tired from it. This is a common sentiment from many pastors and leaders who have served enthusiastically… for the Lord (Col 3:23).
I genuinely love ministry, but I just came out of the busiest spring of my life. The church I pastor in Arkansas completed a historic relocation on Easter while simultaneously launching a ministry center on our old campus with several partner churches. Both projects were indescribably fulfilling, but nonetheless draining. Oh yeah—the very next Sunday after our move, an F-4 tornado waltzed through our county killing sixteen and wiping out 500 homes.
Ministry sprints are common and often predictably seasonal. With a busy spring behind me and a packed fall calendar ahead, summer has been a great time to change the pace and recharge between sprints. Here are a few ways I personally recharge in the summer.
1. Finish a Project That Has Been Mocking You
Start it, finish it, and then run screaming through your yard like you just scored a World Cup goal. Practice dominion on your yard, attic, garage, or closet. Replace that fixture or toilet before fall creeps up and steals away your margin.
2. Enjoy a Book That Feeds You Personally
I have a tendency to read several books at a time without finishing any of them. My summer read is Be Real by my pastor-friend Rick Bezet of New Life Arkansas. My fictional summer reads are by Ted Dekker and Brandilyn Collins.
3. Go Outside and Play
Because of a respite in the normal heat and humidity of July, I am typing this on my back porch right now, then going on a jog with a friend. My wife and I often enjoy walking or running together outside if it is not too muggy. Next Sunday afternoon we are swimming with friends in their new pool. We are never too old to be told to “go outside and play.”
4. Take a Vacation
57% of US workers leave unused vacation on the table each year. That is about 175 million days each year collectively. Americans are now treating vacations as a luxury rather than a benefit. I believe that vacations not only benefit us personally, but also those we live and work with during the rest of the year.
You may think it is too late in the summer to plan a vacation. Or perhaps you are tempted to throw together a last minute Labor Day guilt trip. My advice is to take the trip, but leave the guilt at home by simply asking your family what they want to do and making it happen.
5. Unplug and Recharge
About two thirds (67 percent) of vacationing Americans remain tethered to the office, while 93 percent of the French claim to “constantly, regularly, or sometimes” check work emails and voicemails while on holiday. Ninety-four percent of Indians and 91 percent of Mexicans do the same. Only 43 percent of Germans and 46 percent of the British remain tightly connected to work while on break.
I personally recharge much quicker when I unplug from ministry completely. I cannot completely go into “vacation mode” unless I first turn on the “airplane mode” by turning my tools off completely. Of course, your tools may also be your toys (books, music, games), so at least turn off your email and alerts. Some go further by going dark on all social media and cell phone. I personally turn my phone off and ask my staff to call my wife’s phone for emergencies only.
Sound radical? It is. It takes both humility and faith: humility to concede that you are not all that important; faith to believe that Jesus and His Bride can take care of things while you are gone. Try it and see how much faster your soul recharges.
I actually just returned from an eight-day vacation in Mexico. The things I didn’t pack with me? My phone, tablet, laptop, church members, or guilt.
What suggestions do you have for unplugging and recharging in the summer?
Mark Dance has been the Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas since 2001. In 2014, Second Baptist completed a relocation and repurposed its downtown campus into an evangelical ministry center. A native Texan, Mark pastored churches in Texas and in Tennessee before moving to Arkansas. Connect with Mark online at MarkDance.net.