As a pastor, it seems like the work never stops. Events happen after hours, you’re planning, attending meetings, making visits, and many of you side hustle when you can find the time to in your busy schedules.

We know you work incredibly hard to ensure the health and growth of your church.

But we believe that there is a reason God created rest.

He didn’t need to. He is beyond physical limitations.

But he did.

We’re not completely sure why, but we have a hunch it was to be an example to us. To let us know that we constantly need to come back to Him. Because all this hard work will be a hamster-wheel effect without regularly finding physical and spiritual rest.

And we need this daily, weekly, and annually.

So, let’s walk through 10 ways you can recharge on your time off.

1. Plan Big and Small Breaks.

In the same way you add work events and meetings to your calendar when you’re working, be sure to add in non-work events for when you’re off.

Scheduling in time to rest and recharge helps you remember and hold yourself accountable for doing it. See a free 30-minute gap? Schedule a walk around the lake or a time to read a book. Have an hour? Add a non-work related lunch meeting with a friend to your calendar. Having this downtime on your calendar gives you something to look forward to.

If you’re looking forward to a big vacation or sabbatical, add it to your calendar and set a countdown. The Momentum browser extension for Chrome helps eliminate distractions on your new tab page and also has a countdown widget. Apps like Countdown Star (iOS) or Countdown Days (Android) allow you to keep a countdown on your smartphone.

2. Read a Book.

When you can’t fly away to spend time on an island far away, losing yourself in a good story is the next best thing.

Studies have shown that reading reduces stress, enhances your imagination, and even helps you sleep better. Pastors read the Bible and theology books often, which is great of course, but when is the last time you read something else—purely for fun? A self-improvement, humor, or fiction book?

There are a lot of good options out there, including Christian fiction. We recommend a series by C.S. Lewis and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

3. Laugh.

There are a lot of everyday moments to make us laugh (or make us cry, to be honest) but why not use your time off to let loose and laugh on purpose?

It turns out there’s some truth to the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughing has numerous health benefits. It can reduce stress hormones, stimulate organs, and relieve pain. A 2017 study found that patients who listened to CDs of comic shows over a period of eight weeks saw a decrease in blood pressure.

Have we convinced you to recharge with some humor? Check out K-LOVE’s list of top Christian comedians.

4. Get Good Sleep.

We don’t need to convince you that sleep is a good thing. You know that, even if you don't get enough of it. We don’t need to convince you that the “after church on Sunday nap” is the best nap there is. Everyone knows that.

Getting some sleep is one of the best ways to recharge, so when you have time off, use that time to truly be “off.” Take that time to practice waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, which has some real benefits.

You can use a pen-and-paper sleep log to track your sleeping patterns. The Power Nap app helps you take effective, grogginess-free naps and the Sleep Cycle app analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you up in the lightest sleep phases (also reducing grogginess). If you struggle with pressing the snooze button too many times, the Kiwake alarm clock app can help with that.

5. Step Outside.

Psalm 96:11-12 says, “ Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound. Let the fields and everything in them celebrate. Then all the trees of the forest will shout for joy…”

As created beings, we go through a lot in our lives on Earth. But gazing at the beauty of the One who made our bodies and minds is a great way to recharge. His amazing work is all around us.

Rent a bike and ride it around your city. Many cities have bike trails designed specifically for this. Check out the local schedule of outdoor festivals. Commit to walking for 20 minutes on the beach or in the park. Find any way to relax and recharge outdoors—engaging with nature is good for you!

6. Explore Your City.

There is a reason your are pastoring or are on staff at your church. You’ve committed to being a part of your city for a time, whether short or long-term.

That means you are hopefully a fan of your city or God has called you there, even if it isn’t your favorite place.

The greatest cure for cynicism is thankfulness. And if you’re not cynical or unhappy about your city, this skill is still a great practice.

Find something you love about your city. Maybe it’s an undiscovered bike trail, a new restaurant you’ve never been to, or a local gathering that happens once a month. You can use tools like Yelp, Facebook Events, and your city’s website to find out what’s going on in your area.

This could be a great staycation idea as well!

7. Learn or Practice an Instrument.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano.

I thought it was too late for me–that you had to learn how to play as a child. But the keys player in our worship band recently retired and began to offer piano lessons because there is a large need in our band for more keys players.

The thought of trying out a new hobby is exciting to me. I don’t know if I’ll be any good, but I know I enjoy music already and it can be extremely therapeutic to sing and play guitar with my husband during a long day.

It’s never too late to learn something. Even if it’s not musical!

8. Spend Time With Friends and Family.

We know you’re not a stranger to the concept that we’re made to be in community.

You tell this to your church all the time and encourage them to get connected to others. To join some sort of a small group environment.

But this is much easier to tell other people to do than to do it yourself.

It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day. You have to plan events, sermons, get coffee with people, and work on nights and weekends.

There’s a difference between being with people on ‘work-mode’ and being with the people that you don’t have to “work” to be around.

These are the people you can be honest about how you’re doing (which is vital as a pastor), who you can have game nights with, laugh with, and grieve with. Whether it’s in a small group, your family, or fellow church staff, find these people and plan time to relax and “recharge” together. Together is always better.

9. Write Something.

Writing is a skill that’s pretty essential in life. I’ve gotten by without having to do much math, but you can’t usually work any job without having some skill of written and verbal communication. It’s an important skill to have even if you’re not the next Mark Twain.

Not a great writer?

The only way to get better at anything is to just do it.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or a work of fiction. Trying keeping a journal and using it for your prayers or just write down how you are feeling that day, an experience you may have had recently, or a couple of things you’re grateful for.

You may begin to find this practice of slowing down and writing not only to be therapeutic, but it can actually give you better sleep quality as well.

10. Plan a Date Night.

If you are working at a church and/or have kiddos, it’s likely that you may not get as much time in with your spouse.

Your first ministry is to your family, so make sure to keep your marriage flourishing, you are actively nourishing it.

Here are 20 fun date ideas if you are tired of the traditional dinner and a movie.

Pick something fun that you and your spouse would both enjoy doing or trying for the first time.

Take a Next Step

The #1 barrier to church growth starts with you.

If the senior pastor, or church leaders, are not intentionally taking the time to get better, no one else will follow suit.

We know it can be difficult to know where to begin or even where to go to grow personally. That's why we developed a FREE resource for you. The personal growth plan. All of us on staff at Church Fuel use it because it's that useful.

Take some time this week to fill this out and make your personal growth plan. Because in addition to learning how to recharge on your time off, you'll need to know what to do with your time.

Get the free download by clicking here.