As I write this, the summer holiday season is coming to an end, and the resorts, camps and festivals are winding down for the winter. For some, holidaying involves passports and foreign currency, for others it’s camping equipment and windbreaks. Summertime, and particularly the school holidays, seems to exert a call to holiday as strong as the need for the swallows to migrate north in May.
The benefits of taking a holiday - getting away from the usual routine and experiencing new things are well documented - so why do some people feel guilty or unable to commit to time off? More than that, it seems amongst Christian Workers living on support there is an unspoken thought that goes something like: “It’s not fair to use money from my supporters to take a holiday.”
Here at Stewardship we tell a different story and those who’ve come to one of our training days are encouraged by it. We know from evidence that people who don’t take holidays are less productive and more likely to burn out than those who do. We know that businesses regard employees who don’t take time off for holidays to be a ‘liability’ and will make it mandatory to use allocated holiday entitlement. Surely, this shifts the holiday from the category of ‘luxury’ to one of ‘necessity’? Yes, a holiday is something we plan to enjoy but it’s also crucial for the maintenance of good health, both physical and mental.
Holidays can be whatever you want them to be. They certainly don’t need to cost the earth but they do need to help you disconnect from the pressures you may face on a day-to-day basis. Not least they offer precious time to connect with God and receive from him in preparation for a return to ministry.
_x000D_The ‘staycation’ can be a good option for some who prefer to make the most of their budget by spending it on days out rather than staying away, but if you’re the sort of person who finds it hard to switch off at home then maybe look at ways to take yourself out of your normal environment (including the temptation to check emails or social media). OSCAR features a list of helpful holiday contacts in the UK on their website which offer special deals and/or are run by people sensitive to mission personnel's needs.
Ask your supporters to pray for you during your holiday. Help them to see the importance of a time to rest and re-energise. Don’t feel embarrassed to talk about holidays to your supporters. It will be a normal assumption that they take a holiday, so why not you? In supporting your ministry, supporters should expect to support you as a whole person, not just during working hours.
So pack away any feelings of guilt or misplaced obligation, get that suitcase or backpack out and give yourself permission to enjoy that holiday feeling the next time you take time out.