Sunday, August 23, 2009
Lessons from our vacation
Lessons from our family vacation:
#1 - Two week vacations are essential. Due to schedule conflicts we were unable to have a two-week vacation this year. We still got in two weeks over the Summer, but these were separated from each other by about a month. By Wednesday I finally felt like I was actually relaxing, but on Thursday I felt unable to keep my mind from re-entering "work mode". This was probably just the natural realization that the vacation was soon ending.
#2 - One week for pastoral reflection is needed each year. I didn't get to read and meditate on the Word nearly as much as I intended. I only got through about five theological works. After all was said and done I am okay with this since the purpose of this vacation was to spend time with the family. In that sense I am able to reenter work physically and emotionally refreshed--but still cannot enter it mentally refreshed. I am learning that it is absolutely essential to spend several days each year in quiet reflection and solitude. Pastors need down time to soak deeply into good books and to write. Few realize the mental drain that teaching ministry places upon a pastor.
#3 - Time reconnecting with the family is precious. PK's (pastor's kids) get the brunt of everything. This past week I spent so many good hours with the family. For the first time in a long time we just sat and talked on and on. I was able to spend a few hours in one-on-one's with each of the kids individually, and we spent much time sharing meals, playing games, and hiking on the beautiful trails of Northern Michigan.
#4 - I didn't realize how disconnected I had become. Our children are growing up so terribly fast. The days when they naturally idolized mom and dad are over. We have entered that much more difficult period where we must actually earn their respect by living a consistent life of maturity, compassion, and godliness. My children are also beginning to experience issues pertaining to young adulthood---romantic feelings, fears of death, and worries about the future. This past week brought into focus the challenges that lay ahead for me as a Dad.
#5 - Despite my failures as a dad, my kids are amazing. I was deeply humbled at the level of godliness my children demonstrated. They certainly sin and struggle, but all three show a marked desire to follow after God and live their lives to His glory. They eagerly study His word and experience a sense of shame when they behave in a manner unpleasing to God. The growing level of spiritual maturity in my children is a wonderful gift of grace from our very good God.
#6 - My wife is an amazing support. Amy continues to be the glue that holds everything together. She has this amazing ability to remind me of my responsibilities without usurping my authority. I deeply value the respect she has of me, her patience with my faults, her commitment to Christ, and the family ministry to which she has dedicated herself.
#7 - I can actually grow a beard. Perhaps not nearly as serious as the above, but for the first time in my life I have a beard! Everyone I know hates it, especially the wife and kids. But since I can't get over the uniqueness of the situation it is here to stay for a while.