I have been looking forward to the upcoming week for some time. It is vacation week! While there are still many things I could be working on if I were here, I am confident they will still be there when I return. And, with all that has been going on, both in ministry and at home, it is coming at a much-needed time. So, because so many of you regularly tell me you are praying for me, I thought I would give you some specific things to pray for during this upcoming vacation week. (Hey, I encourage you to share specific prayer requests. I should lead by example!)
Pray for the grace to unplug from ministry (really unplug)
One of the greatest challenges of pastoral ministry is that you never really get away from it. It really can be 24/7/365, prompting statements like “Even when you are with us you are not really with us.” (No, I haven’t heard that in a long time. But, when I did, it was well deserved.) So, when vacation comes, it is always tough to unplug. The thoughts of what I forgot to do before leaving, those who are having ongoing life challenges, the person who will be preaching in my absence (no matter how gifted), etc. all can continue to weigh on you. Some of those concerns, honestly, can be driven by pride – thoughts like “they need me,” or “it might not be done like I would have done it,” etc. But, some of those concerns are driven by my love for those God has entrusted to me to lead and shepherd. Pray that God will remind me: that the church is His, not mine; that He has placed other godly leaders there (pastors and others) who are more than capable of leading with excellence; that I need to give my family my undivided attention.
Pray for a great time of family fun and relaxing
The demands of ministry and the busyness of a family with two teenagers and an almost teenager rarely allow for a full day (much less multiple days) of family fun with no other responsibilities. Pray for the time simply to enjoy each other as a family and to enjoy together some activities that simply are not part of the normal routine, including some “chill time” and rest.
Pray for God to work in our lives as we worship with another local body
You might be thinking, “You are going to church while on vacation?” Well, um, yes! Why wouldn’t we? No, we don’t have any personal connections with a church in the area where we are going. No, we probably won’t know anybody. No, they may not worship with the same style of music that we do. But, the reality is, the same Holy Spirit lives in them that lives in us, making us one in Christ. So, I look forward to meeting some of our other brothers and sisters that we may not see again until glory. Plus, this is an unusual opportunity for me. Most every Sunday I come to worship with leadership responsibilities, including praying, preaching, leading, vision-casting, etc. In this case, I can simply participate in worship. Pray that we have the freedom to worship. Pray that we are not distracted by the differences in style. Pray that I allow God to speak to my heart by His Spirit through His Word as it is preached, rather than sitting there critiquing the pastor’s message thinking, “I wouldn’t have preached that passage that way.” Yes, I can really be prone to think that. (Remember, your shepherd is also a sheep.)
Pray for a relaxing time of visiting with family
We are looking forward to having a couple of days with family, especially with those we get to see only once or twice each year. However, with us living 10 hours away, when we get together the tendency can be to try to cram a year’s worth of activities into a couple of days. So, pray for a great time of visiting with family AND for the opportunity to relax while there.
Pray for traveling mercies
Pray for safe travels as we drive the 9-10 hours back home to NC. Yes, I said travel back HOME to NC. While we enjoy visiting with family in AL, home is where God has planted us, and that is here in NC.
Well, there you go. Thank you for your love and commitment to your pastor and his family. Thank you for your prayers. I love you all. I look forward to being back with you soon.
P.S. If I’m not your pastor, use this as a guide to pray for your shepherd when he goes on vacation!
(Photo courtesy of Larney Fox on Flickr)