A Loving Reminder that You Are Not That Important

Note: I’m writing this mostly to those with pastoral responsibility, but translate to whatever vocation fills your days. We all need a break.

Recently my spouse and I were trying to plan a week away. Vacation. Sabbath, to churchify it.

“What about the first week?” he said.

“That’s communion.” I replied.

“What about the second week?”

“That’s session.”

His tone was getting desperate. “The third?”

The third is usually good for me, but I consulted my calendar. “Oh no. Presbytery stuff.”

“The fourth?” He asked, even though he knew all hope was lost.

“Community dinner. I could miss it, but they need you to cook. And I really should be there.”

“Then we’re out of weeks. If you really want this vacation, you’re going to have to miss something important.”

I didn’t throw anything at my long suffering and annoying correct husband, because I am a mature person. But I was tempted.

Most of us are, theoretically, fans of vacation. Proponents of Sabbath. Intimately aware of our own need for time off and recharge, especially after this hellish year. We do want to take our vacations.

But we also don’t want to let anyone down. To drop any balls. To inconvenience our hardworking volunteers with a change in schedule. To make life harder on ourselves by missing something big. This is true for all pastors, but doubly so for those of us working solo, with minimal staff. It can feel like there’s just never time to get away. We’re always needed somewhere.

But it isn’t true. And so, with every bit of love in my heart for you, you beautiful, dedicated servant of God, I need to tell you the exact phrase I tell myself: You Are Not That Important.

I’m not talking about your value in the eyes of God. There you are valued worth far more than jewels, fearfully and wonderfully made, all that jazz. But in the daily running of God’s church? You Can Miss Stuff.

I know it’s hard. I am arguing with myself even as I write this blog. But it’s true. Communion? Lots of qualified pulpit supply in our Presbytery to handle that for you. (Thanks, Rev. Kate Mauch!) Session? It very possibly can be moved, or again, a colleague can step in to moderate. Presbytery stuff? First off, God bless you for serving. But also, the point of a presbytery is that it collects colleagues to have your back. Personally, I am going to miss the August Presbytery meeting so I can attend a family wedding in Idaho. I hate that I’m missing it; I feel like I’m letting people down; it’s skipping out on a full quarter of my moderating duties. But you know what? Carol Buckhout, vice-moderator, is an amazing, gifted, qualified human being. She’ll take care of it. And I’ll tend to important family ties.

We are not alone in ministry. We have incredible colleagues at our back. We have incredible church members by our side. And those members are often far more confident and capable than we give them credit for. They can absolutely run the committee meeting, community dinner, youth group, ladies’ luncheon, book club, or air conditioning repair without you. Trust them to lead and provide when you are gone, the same way they trust you to lead and provide when you are there.

Y’all, it’s been a rotten year. So take your vacation time. If you’re stuck on how, call in your most solid elders, your nearest neighbor colleague, your Presbytery leaders. We all want you, lovingly, to go away—like Jesus did. To go away, and rest, and recharge.

Because while you are not important, you also are The Most Important, and you deserve a break. You deserve rest. You deserve Sabbath grace.

Even if it’s a little inconvenient.

In Christ’s peace,

Carol Holbrook Prickett, Moderator