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It’s summer and time for you to take a well-deserved break from youth ministry, whether it’s for two days or two weeks. I can attest that vacations and even short getaways are huge for “staying in the game” for the long haul. Don’t think vacation is impossible, even if money and time are really tight. Some of our family’s best breaks have been cheap and short.

1. Consider a “staycation,” or at-home vacation. What’s more refreshing than sleeping as long as you want and then going somewhere fun? One summer when our family was dirt poor, we planned special day trips near home. (Our young boys helped choose some outings, and at the zoo I had to explain why two elephants were “hugging” each other so tightly.) If you’re staying home, don’t let most others know. Some people always think they’re the exception to your time-off guidelines.

2. Disconnect and let go of the guilt. If you stay mentally and emotionally attached to your phone and email, you won’t get that much-needed break. So unplug! (I’m sure that’s in the Bible somewhere.) Also, at the risk of sounding heartless, don’t feel guilty about not spending every break with relatives. Although I love our visits, my adult sons need some vacation time that doesn’t involve extended family. So do you.

3. Delegate authority to one or two individuals. Just 12 hours into a much-needed weekend trip, I was called back for an “emergency.” If I’d delegated authority beforehand and made it clear to everyone who that person was, I’d have avoided that predicament.

4. If you have children, vacation with your spouse every year—even if it’s brief. One of the greatest gifts Sam and I gave our children was the confidence that their parents had a strong marriage. So each year, we routinely spent one week of vacation with our boys and the second week alone. Sure, the kids rolled their eyes about it when they were younger. But now they say real security came from knowing their parents were still “honeymooning” while many of their friends’ parents were divorcing.

Early in my career, someone said, “Jeanne, either come apart or fall apart.” That may sound cheesy, but one reason I’m still in youth ministry after nearly four exciting decades is that I’ve made break-taking a priority. So happy getaway, even if you aren’t leaving home. Just think twice before hanging with the elephants.

 

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