Saturday, February 23, 2008
A Week In Paradise
Lori and I just came back from a week in Hawaii. We spent our 20th Anniversary there. No kids, no stress, no worries. What a blast. We spent 2 days in Honolulu visiting Pearl Harbor and driving around the island. People are right. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
We went to Kona, on the big island, and spent 5 days. We stayed at a hotel down on the strip where the local hang out and spent every night walking through the shops. We went to chuch with one of the Agape Church member's daughter and son in law. Most importantly we relaxed, went snorkeling, and slept late. What a great time to be with, in my opinion, the most beautiful woman in the world as well as my best friend.
I did learn a great lesson. When I left the last church and planted Agape I had leaders from our supporting church, as well as other ministers, suggest that I take my vacation time seriously. I doubled my vacation time with this move and this trip reminded me that I have not taken the time I should to be with my family. The average American takes 2-3 days vacation per year. In Europe if you don't take 4 weeks vacation you can lose your health insurance (they feel that time off makes you healthier). Our friends in Sweden say that 5 weeks is starting time off (as well as 9 months maternity and 9 months paternity leave for a couple with a new baby). For some reason we Americans do not take our vacation time with our family as seriously as we should.
Why? Some would blame employers. People start out with 1 week and over many years move to 2 weeks. Some employers (I remember working for UPS as my first introduction to increasing vacation) bless their employees with vacation incentives. We might also blame people themselves. In Europe YOU HAVE TO TAKE YOUR VACATION. Many Americans don't take vacation, they just take the pay for the extra days of work. In some cases we work ourselves to death. In other cases we do not have the option for vacation.
I read Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis. Excellent book. I remember in his book that he mentioned it had been years before he had taken a day off. In one of my classes at George Fox Seminary I found out that 70% of the 42 students weren't taking a day off on a regular basis. These students were in ministry full time. Needless to say we devoted a class to family, time off, and sabbaticals.
Why? Some would blame the employers, churches, who do not feel that ministers should have time off. Some church leaders are disgruntled that they are not treated well at their jobs, so they take it out on the preachers. Others can blame the preachers themselves. They try to please everyone and are workaholics. Their families suffer.
Either way I have been challenged by God to rest and enjoy sabbath. I also plan to talk about this in the Fall when I present classes for elders and ministers at the Abilene lectures. I also plan to encourage men and women to see time off and vacation time as a blessing and something to be enjoyed. I also plan to encourage young ministers to protect their families and themselves by requesting more than 2 weeks vacation every year.
If everyone can enjoy time with their families as I have, we would all be more active in taking time away.