One of the times of year my family looks forward to the most is our annual camping trip to Lake Michigan. We sleep in a tent, cook around a campfire and spend a week without a schedule, alarms or obligations. Because my husband and I both work at a smaller church, it has taken us years to figure out how to completely unplug from our roles when we go on vacation. The tendency was to open work email daily and bring our laptops “just in case” something was needed from us. Through trial and error, we had learned that the most important thing we can do for ourselves and for our family is to disconnect.
Here are a few simple steps that can help you not only be less worried about leaving, but will allow you to fully recharge while you are away.
Plan in Advance
While spontaneous time away sounds fun and, at times, extremely tempting, not planning your vacation in advance will do you and others in your ministry a disservice. We need to respect our team members by allowing them time to prepare for our departure. Look at your calendar, chart out a week or two through out the year where you can spend quality time away. Then schedule it!
Once you have your vacation time scheduled, line up a trust worthy person to take your role while you are away. Give them authority to make decisions that you would not be able to make in your absence. Let all your team members know who their temporary point person is while you are gone and make sure they have all contact information needed.
Equip Your Team
Before you leave, make sure that positions are scheduled, team members contacted, service plans are in place, media is up to date, and lights are programed. Do everything you can do to make sure things run smoothly in your absence. The more you equip those who will be leading, the more you can relax and feel safe to disconnect.
Once you have a leader in place, and you have done all you can to prepare the team for your absence, UNPLUG. Turn on an “away message” for your email, leave your laptop at home, and avoid checking in on your team. If you need to have an emergency back up point of contacting you, be restricted to who has that information and make it clear that they are only to contact you if absolutely necessary (i.e. the media computer is on fire or the entire band did not show up for service).
Unplugging is not only healthy for you as a leader, but for your team.
Whenever a ministry depends solely on one person, it can crumble in time. An effective team is one that knows that even in your absence, things can still go smoothly. Putting more responsibility on your team temporarily will give them a sense of ownership and, ultimately, give you and your family the healthy rest that you need to truly lead well.