For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taking Time to Mend the Nets

Our family doesn’t take many vacations.  Partly, because we just can’t afford the extended holiday abroad, as they say.  Partly because schedules just make it tough.  A couple years ago, we went to D. C. and some places in between for our oldest daughter’s “Senior Trip.”  Now that our oldest son is graduating, we’re going to try and squeeze in another trip for him.  This time, it’s out west, following part of Old Route 66 and to the Grand Canyon.

I have to admit that part of me always feels a little guilty.  I know time away is a good thing.  Time with family even better.  But I always feel like I’m “shirking” responsibility or something, just talking off and playing around. 

I recently read a few words from Spurgeon that helped, written in the July 1869 edition of The Sword and Trowel.  Maybe you feel the same guilt and you need to know that time off is not only good, but necessary; so I hope you benefit from these words as well. It’s aimed at ministers, but the principle surely applies to all. 

THE fishermen had a good take of mackerel the other evening at Brighton, but while getting in the net it became very badly entangled among the rocks, and was sadly rent. Before that net can be used again, busy fingers must see to its mending. Records of net-mending are as old as the days of “him who trod the sea,” for he found the boats at the sea of Galilee empty, because the fishermen were gone out of them, and were mending their nets. The Lord’s nets, the preachers of the word, need mending too. Our mind grows jaded, and our spirit depressed, our heartbeats with diminished rigor’, and our eyes lose their brightness, if we continue, month after month, and year after year, without a rest. Mental work will as surely wear out the brain as friction will destroy the iron wheel. It is a bad policy to forego the regular vacation. There is no more saving in it than there would be in the fisherman’s continuing to fish with a rent net, because he could not afford time to sit down and mend it. The mind, like a field, ought to lie fallow every now and then; the crops will be the better for it.

Congregations are most unwise who would grudge their pastor the time and the means to enjoy a thorough change, and a season of complete relaxation. Oh, how reviving to wander in the woods, or lie down amid the pillared shade of the pine forests! The hum of bees is Elysium. Every bell of the heather silently rings out peace and goodwill. One drinks in new life as the lungs receive the sea breezes, or the pure currents which sweep the glacier and the eternal snow. To watch the flying clouds, to mark the gathering tempest, to shelter beneath the rock, or in the cotter’s hut, or even to brave out the rain — all this is .balm to the soul. Headache, melancholy, nervousness, suspicion, and all the other children of indigestion, fly before the staff or the alpertsrock. Exercise is almost a means of grace; a walk with God is altogether so. Hope, courage, vivacity, zeal, resolve, all return on the wings of the wind when the right-hearted but weary laborer has had space to relieve the overwrought brain. Many a regret for unearnest sermons and unweeping prayers might never have been needed if our minds were more themselves, and less threadbare with everpassing anxieties. How can we help losing the fish if our net is fall of holes?

We may be blamed for bad fishing, but who can help it if the net be largely rent, and yawns with gashes? Mental weariness is too often the cause of spiritual powerlessness. Deacons and wealthy stewards of the Lord’s goods should generously aid their pastors, where such aid is needed, that they may for the sake of their churches and their work mend their nets; or, to use the Master’s words, may “go into the desert and rest awhile.”

Brethren, everywhere, see ye to it.


Gregg Metcalf said...

I agree. I use to feel guilty or never took time off. But I came to realize, first, I am like other normal men who work and labor and need occasional vacations; second, there is nothing wrong with taking one.

Now, I believe that after about three years, a lead-teaching pastor should take a month a year off and every 5 years he should get a 3 month sabbatical.

Foure things need to happen to make this possible (not counting funding):

-Pastor must trust the congregation to fully understand and support the time off

- congregation must be properly educated

- pastor must have trained and developed true (biblical) elders who can step right up and teach and lead in his absence

Real loving, supportive, caring bond must have developed between shepherd and sheep

Scott said...

Well, it's been almost ten years in this one place, over 20 all together. Over those 20 years I've taken maybe a total of about 8 weeks actual vacation time. (most of my "vacation" time ends up on mission trips, etc.) So I guess I'm do for several months, right?