The necessity of recreation
There is a mantra we’ve repeated many times on this blog: “Ministry is hard.” There are a lot of things we sometimes do to make it harder. We can make it harder by not getting enough sleep, not maintaining a healthy diet, not getting enough exercise, and not taking much-needed days off for rest and recharging.
Another way we can make ministry harder is by not taking time for recreation. Ministry can be awfully stressful. Let me share three tips I’m learning about the importance of recreation in the life of a pastor.
First, recreation helps relieve stress. Whether it’s an occasional round of golf or a hike in the woods, having an active hobby can be a great source of stress relief. Personally, I enjoy playing softball. I also enjoy playing an occasional round of golf. I love going to the driving range or the batting cages. It is quite cathartic to spend an hour or so hitting a ball. And it’s much more beneficial than hitting, say, a church member.
Second, recreation can help build relationships. I play in a co-ed softball league with a few folks from our church. But we also have several non-church members on the team. This gives me an opportunity to meet folks I probably would never meet otherwise. Last year I had the privilege of performing the wedding ceremony of a couple who played with us. Now, in full disclosure, we haven’t gained any church attenders (yet) from our softball team. We haven’t had folks come to faith in Christ in left field (yet). But I’ve spent a couple of years building relationships with folks on our team.
A round of golf with an acquaintance will give you a couple of hours to get to know another person. It will also teach you self-control because, as a pastor, you have to keep your temper in check when your tee shot winds up two fairways over when you’re playing with someone else.
Finally, recreation provides great family time. While I think it’s perfectly OK for you to have some activities you enjoy apart from your family, it’s very important to have some activities you enjoy as a family. It might be a board game or card game your whole family enjoys. Our family enjoys playing Frisbee golf on warm Sunday evenings. It’s a great time together after a long day of ministry. It helps us reconnect before the busyness of a new week hits. Even something as simple as walking the dog together as a family can be a great time to talk.
I can’t stress this enough, pastor: You need some type of healthy recreational outlet. Don’t make ministry harder than it already is by not having some type of active recreational activity.