Preaching to Myself

Posted on March 28, 2008

What do you do on your day off? Now that is a great question. Maybe a better one is do you actually take a day off? Yeah, we talk about it. But do we actually do it?

When I have the opportunity to speak to leaders I talk about the importance of living in the rhythm that God has given us; working six days and taking a day off. And I talk about backing off from technology and disengaging. But today, I’m finding myself doing this blog…on my day off! Here I am, at the office. Why am I here?

Again, talk is cheap. And after 18 years of preaching, I still struggle with working on my day off. Recently, I’ve fallen into a habit on Friday (my day off) of waking up early and looking over my message for several hours, which I really shouldn’t do. But for me, it’s like I can’t get away from it. Every idle thought is about the talk and the responsibility and accountability of saying something on behalf of God. Yes, God uses my vocal chords. But the emotional buildup and stress of that weekend wave is hard to explain.

Do you struggle with this? I would love to hear from you. What do you do on your day off? Do you find yourself talking about taking a day off more than doing it? Do you find yourself working on your day off?

I guess I’m preaching to myself …

35 Replies to "Preaching to Myself"

  • m@
    March 28, 2008 (12:39 pm)

    I really struggle with this too. I can’t shut it off. It seems like any day off, I just have to do stuff around the house. I use to take Mondays off and do woodworking with a friend, then my friend moved. I use to go to barnes and nobles, drink coffee and read magazines, then I had kids. Time seems to be move important than money or anything these days…I just look forward to summer when my wife has off from teaching. And right now…vacation in 10 days.

  • Brian
    March 28, 2008 (12:50 pm)

    YES!!! I struggle with feeling guilty when I’m not working. I know that I NEED to take time off, but its sometime easier to know than to do. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

  • J.R. Lee
    March 28, 2008 (2:08 pm)

    …and to me. I am TERRIBLE at taking a full day and doing nothing.
    Disengaging seems to be borderline impossible – but still working on it 🙂

  • Jason
    March 28, 2008 (2:09 pm)

    I wrestle with the idea of “time off.” I wonder if it is because there is such a thin line between “who we are” and “what we do?” When I drove a fork lift, I never had a problem with taking the weekend off. But now that I am the leader of our local church, I feel as long as I am breathing, I’m “on.” I am getting better at taking time away from the office, but I am still struggling with being able to focus my mind and energy on anything other than the church. We are in a season of conflict in our church right now, which makes it even more difficult to “shut down” for a day.

  • David
    March 28, 2008 (2:15 pm)

    Not that I can really consider this work, but here I am on my day off. I’m sitting in my recliner at home, with my laptop in my lap, procrastinating. I feel the need to do more to be ready for the weekend, but I’m fighting it within myself.

  • Kent Shaffer
    March 28, 2008 (2:24 pm)

    Yes, I tend to find the day I intend to take off be filled with pursuing some new “opportunity” or playing catch up.

  • Brian Moon
    March 28, 2008 (2:49 pm)

    Since my wife and I planted a church this has been a struggle, but we try to make it a priority. I still spend an hour looking over my talk last thing before bed on Saturday night. I think it helps me dream about my transitions 🙂
    One thing we have done that helps is to take mini road trips on our day off. That way I am forced to leave things behind. But, by 5pm or 6pm I am feeling the pressure start. I don’t sleep much the night before. You are right it is hard to explain to others.
    Thanks for sharing your struggles too!

  • John W.
    March 28, 2008 (3:42 pm)

    This is an issue I deal with on a regular basis. Let’s face it, we work consistently to have a flowing stream of money.
    One day, on my day off, while trying to convince myself of the benefits of 6 days on, 1 day off, I did some work and discovered the following information about 6 successful workaholic men.
    Do you know who, in 1923, was:
    1.President of the largest steel company?
    2.President of the largest gas company?
    3.President of the New York Stock Exchange?
    4.The greatest Wheat Speculator?
    5.President of the Bank of International Settlement?
    6.The greatest “Bear” of Wall Street?
    These men should be considered some of the world’s most successful men; at least they found the secret of making money. Now more than 85 years later, do you know what became of these men?
    1.The President of the largest steel company, Samuel Insull, died a fugitive from justice and penniless in a foreign land.
    2.The President of the largest gas company, Howard Hopson, became insane.
    3.The President of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, was released from prison to die at home.
    4.The greatest Wheat Speculator, Arthur Cutten, died abroad, insolvent.
    5. The President of the Bank of International Settlement, Leon Fraser, shot himself.
    6. The greatest “Bear” of Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, committed suicide.
    Does all work and no rest lead to bad judgment?
    Check this out. In the Bible, I compared THAT SAME YEAR, 1923 to New Testament scripture addresses. There are only 4 books that have 19 chapters, with scripture addresses of 19:23. And each one mentions some form of money and it’s consequences.
    In Matthew, it’s hard for a rich man; Luke, collecting interest on money; John, gambling; and Acts, serious trouble about the Way, inspired by a wealthy businessman.
    We are dependent on a flowing stream of money to survive and God knows this. That is why I believe God’s rhythm, 6 days on, 1 day off was inspired by fishermen, people who depend on flowing streams for their living. Out of the 12 apostles, the occupation of 6 is unknown, and 1 was a tax collector, (a money man and despised outcast). The other 5 were fisherman.
    Maybe God is telling us to STOP WORKING ON OUR DAY OFF AND GO FISHING!!!!
    BTW – the most fish I ever caught was on my day off.

  • mike
    March 28, 2008 (4:58 pm)

    Is there really such thing as a “day off”? If we are not doing work in which we get paid for, we are doing work in ways that will/should enrich our lives.
    Truth be told, I am pretty sure some of your best sermons, ideas, or other _____ came on your “day off”. Sometimes just by stepping back on your day off, you are able to step forward in life…

  • Buddy Cremeans
    March 28, 2008 (5:20 pm)

    Great post…Thanks for keeping it real Ed!
    I’m turning my computer off now.

  • Donald Proctor
    March 28, 2008 (7:15 pm)

    No, I don’t have any problem with this issue. I have recently created a BLOG after reading The Blogging Church and here it is Friday night (my day off) and I am checking out blogs to see how they are done. Actually being the pastor of a single staff church I never really get a day off unless we leave the area. But the fact that I am a pastor of a single staff church also allows me to take some time on some other day and fish or golf. But usually I try to do this with a church member or a prospective member. Day off? Not really, but I would guess like you. . . I probably would not know what to do if I had one!

  • ac5
    March 28, 2008 (7:45 pm)

    I had a terible time with this until one time I starting working at a church (15 years into my ministry) where the secretary only worked M-Th and she took off Friday. The pastor I followed had also taken Friday off. Everyone in the parish was used to it. So I started doing it as well. At first it was difficult . . . I was so used to being on call, universally available, wanting to justify my existence and my pay. But over the years I have gotten better and better at it. It has been a god send. Now I do pretty well at it. I try to have my sermon finished by Thursday.

  • Rick Morrison
    March 28, 2008 (7:49 pm)

    Some would say that I am a pretty driven guy. One day, after a big holiday push, a colleague gently suggested that I might enjoy a book…The Rhythm of Life by Richard Exley. He loaned me his personal copy. That was 5 years ago. A switch flipped inside me as I read that book. Rhythm is a constant thread woven throughout the tapestry of God’s systems designs. Creation, nature, our physical body, etc. I found that by embracing the rhythm he has for my life. which involved taking a lot more down time…actually has made me MORE productive. God can do in a moment what we can strive to make happen in a week, or month or year or even a lifetime.
    I read a recent management article about improving efficiency in an assembly plant. A “process guru” was brought in to assess what would make the production line more efficient. He suggested that instead of the workers taking the normal 20 minute break, that they work 3 minutes and rest 3 minutes. Upper management was livid. The productivity increased by 40 percent by working “less.” It’s all about the rhythm of life.

  • Kris Sorensen
    March 28, 2008 (8:22 pm)

    Hi hear ya Ed. If I’m anywhere near my home or the office I find myself working on the sermon or future sermons. I can preach it but I have to force myself to live it.

  • Chad Payne
    March 28, 2008 (10:49 pm)

    I also struggle with this. Friday is my day off, and if I don’t engage with my family and get on with doing life with them early in the day, I end up just sort of “shutting down” emotionally. I push so hard all week that it is difficult for me to simply enjoy being at rest.
    We work to protect our day off – or our “Family Day” as we call it – by turning off the ringer on the phones and not checking e-mail. I have to admit… it is extremely difficult to not go and get my “fix,” and find out who “needs me” today!
    Is it just me, or are our pastoral responsibilities almost like a drug? On my last day off, I would walk past my computer and think, “Just a quick check on the e-mail…” And I had to make myself not do it!
    John W.– Thanks for the story about the guys from 1923. Wow! What an eye opener.
    Ed– Lovin’ the blog. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Frank Chiapperino
    March 29, 2008 (12:01 am)

    Ed, I often find myself doing the same. Especially when I am on deck to preach. Most weeks I am preaching I just dont get a day off because I can’t stop thinking about the coming sermon. The only thing that helps me turn it off is taking the family on a day trip.

  • Paul Kuzma
    March 29, 2008 (2:46 am)

    This is the typical struggle for anyone of us who works a non-clocked job. For me, this is why I take Mondays off. All the build-up is toward the weekend. It’s too frustrating for me to try to shut down on Friday.

  • David Foster
    March 29, 2008 (8:20 am)

    Sometimes the ox is in the ditch. It when you have too many of these in a row, that you need to be concerned that you’re living too fast.
    Speed makes you stupid! No exceptions!

  • Brad
    March 29, 2008 (9:14 am)

    I guess I’m more concerned about Ed’s orange pants and white t-shirt! Ed – please, you need to take some time off and get some new “day off” threads. Lisa, please help him!! J/K I remember Rick Warren once saying to a group of church planter, “If you work more than 50 hours a week you are less productive than you think.” That has stuck with me. Work smarter not longer. Didn’t somebody years ago talk about remembering…what was that again…oh… “the sabbath day?” I think we should follow that lead, especially if we are telling other dads in our church (from the pulpit) that our families need to be priority #1. I’m so guilty of this. Thanks Ed for addressing it head on!

  • Sandra West
    March 29, 2008 (11:47 am)

    Wow! I have been praying about this very issue! It has been bothering me for a good while now that I didn’t know what “Honor the sabbath and keep it holy” looked like for moms. There is a never ending list of to do’s and it’s difficult to let go. I know God is at work in answering this prayer…in the past week this conversation has come up several times. Thanks for tackling this subject. Remember God can work wonders in an instant…trust in Him that He is in charge of your sermon…then rest in the fact that that He has a plan. Many prayers go our to you and your family as you study this topic. Thanks for all that you do for our church!

  • Greg - The Bow-fisherman
    March 29, 2008 (1:29 pm)

    I have no problem taking time off. There are times when work backs up so bad at the office because I decide to take that break, it makes me gun shy and anxious thinking about how I’m going to catch up when I get back. As my relationship grows with Christ, I’m beginning to realize that my worries are unfounded. He does not leave me, I don’t need to worry. Just work hard when I have to – and be an example of Christ – and everything else falls into place. I also realize, I’m not near as important as I think I am (corporately)

  • Mike Sessler
    March 29, 2008 (11:01 pm)

    As a recovering workaholic, I struggle with this. I currently feel blessed beyond measure to be working in a church that feels so strongly about rest and refreshment that we get TWO days off each week! And sometimes my boss tells me to take more time off if I’ve been working too much!
    On Saturdays I run errands, work around the house and hang out with the family. On Mondays, I try to do something that refreshes me, then I pick my girls up from school and hang out.
    Still, as a technology geek, I struggle. I pick up my laptop to write an e-mail to a friend and find myself checking my church account. Sometimes I even start working on graphics or the worship slides or researching new equipment.
    I find sometimes it takes a change of venue–going to Caribou with just a book, no laptop–to really disengage and rest.
    So yeah, it’s something I both need and struggle with. Thanks for the reminder…

  • Doug Rutter
    March 30, 2008 (1:26 am)

    I don’t have a problem getting out of the office, but I struggle with getting the office out of my head when I’m not there. I know that my family needs me to be fully present when I’m not here, but it’s so hard not to allow myself to drift back in spare seconds.
    I spent 10 years in the “high-pressure” Corporate world and I never had an issue with this. I was like a robot. As soon as I was out the door, the switch was off and I didn’t have a thought about work until 9AM the next day. In ministry, it’s just not the same…
    Thanks, Ed…for sharing your burden…I feel you, brother.

  • Neil
    March 30, 2008 (2:12 pm)

    I’m a youth pastor & I absolutely struggle w/ taking a day off. Thursdays are my days off. Which rather than getting ready for the message I’m recovering from the 2 (jr. high & sr. high) the night before. I’m drained, but I still feel the need to do something.
    I attempt at times at not bringing home the laptop, but rarely succeed. Truly taking a day off is something that I struggle w/ each week. I feel guilty when I have a creative thought on my off day – do I not work & write down the idea or take advantage of the creative juices and write the Bible study or series idea down?

  • charles hill
    March 30, 2008 (2:29 pm)

    Used to struggle. Now I don’t… as much!
    Just like any discipline, it’s a discipline. I do blog as I find that relaxing. I will read other blogs (same as watching TV or reading right?) Will clear out my inbox of not important, minor stuff…I have those boundaries.
    It’s simply a discipline like any other, especially for a pastor!
    blessings and peace.

  • Leland
    March 30, 2008 (10:35 pm)

    It seems only natural to want to review your message on Friday mornings. Your mind wants to know if you’re ready for the weekend. Maybe take Friday afternoons and Monday mornings off?
    I wondered how pastors handled this ongoing responsibility. Perhaps it’s not easy for anyone.

  • Terrace Crawford
    March 31, 2008 (8:42 am)

    Yes, Ed, I have struggled with this. We are so driven and plugged in that its like an addiction. People who aren’t pastors don’t understand what its like to prepare for sermons… so they don’t get why we want to think about our weekend message on our day off. I understand that struggle because I still have it. I have found that if I am more intentional (ie: not getting on internet on my day off, not stopping by the office, even turning my cell off!) it can be a big help to protecting my day off.

  • Craig
    March 31, 2008 (4:45 pm)

    Why absolutely Ed. I seem to always work on my day off as well. And I can only imagine the stress of being a pastor of a large congregation, better yet, one church, five locations. I would always be stressin’.
    But Ed, you are a pro. No doubt about it. I look forward to hearing you deliver God’s powerful message every Sunday. You do it so well, and you know you do! So don’t stress Ed. You are a natural. It is absolutely evident to me, that you are doing exactly what you are called to do. I feel like I am doing what God has called me to do, only problem is, I wish I was doing something else. I hate the talents God has given me. I wish I was more talented in something else. I’m an automotive technician. I want to be something else that involves getting to wear nice clothes to work, and an office with a desk, computer, and a calculator.
    Thanks. Thanks for all you do for Fellowships members, and most of all, for giving God all the praise and the glory.
    In Jesus,

  • Kevin Connell
    March 31, 2008 (5:01 pm)

    Ed TODAY is my day off and I am on the comupter thinking about our message series coming up. My wife and kids are out of town today, so it’s all good 🙂
    Hey, we are doing a message series entitled “The Venti Life”. I would LOVE to share with our students your thoughts on the abundant life. “What is the abundant life?” Give me a few sentances is you have time. (a video would even be better)
    Thanks for your time!
    Kevin, Jax Fl

  • Gunnar
    April 1, 2008 (1:42 pm)

    Hi Ed!
    Yeah, i know the drill on my “day off” momentum…
    To be a sound engeneer for my daily work, and beeing sound engeneer in my Church, i more than once trying to find something to do other than beeing stuck behind a console..
    I just desided 1 day a week, or 1 day out of 2 weeks – to put my sons name on the calender and in the time manager.
    Took a total day off, morning to noon. No cellphone, no small work at the office – just me and my boys!
    To be total honest, a good collection of my finest memories was made on those days!
    Keep up the good work Ed, i watch you every sunday – one my highlights every time.
    God Bless.
    Gunnar – Norway.

  • Chris
    April 3, 2008 (9:20 am)

    I do take a day off but it is on Mondays. I found that Fridays were difficult because I ended up with 2 off days in a row (if nothing was scheduled on Saturday). That was too long to let my sermons sit and get “cold”. So, Mondays I literally get lazy and spend it at home with family. Then I get up Tuesdays and go till Sunday.

  • Eric Sagal
    April 16, 2008 (11:32 am)

    It seems to be the case for most people in ministry. I always feel like the pace is alot faster than it should be, but sometimes that is good as it stretches us and makes us grow. However, I do feel that a day off is extremely important. I take Mondays off to relax, catch up on some tv shows, etc. But I then hit it hard Tuesday through Sunday. I was glad to see all of the comments about this topic, it’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one dealing with the situation. 🙂 Thanks for posting!

  • Christopher Stapleton
    April 17, 2008 (6:27 pm)

    My day off is usually the one day where I’m bombarded with creative ideas. It’s unfortunate that I can’t reroute creativity to my work-week. I’m seriously working on not working on anything during my days off, so your blog hit close to home for me.
    thx for all of your insight, you’re a blessing to the church!

  • Becky C
    May 8, 2008 (9:24 pm)

    LOL. Funny you should mention it. I’m a veterinary technician here in Dallas so on my day off I tend to spend all my time in pet stores, aquariums, zoos, or just caring for my own little zoo. I seem to actually relax more when I just do what I love to do!

  • Lettice
    October 25, 2011 (2:40 pm)

    If I were a Teeagne Mutant Ninja Turtle, now I’d say “Kowabunga, dude!”

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