A 2017 note…this was one of your favorite blog posts from 2016 so I wanted to share it again, with some added thoughts, as we ease into the summer months of 2017. When you open this post, I will be on a much needed and much anticipated vacation, practicing what I preach in the steps below. I will report back when we return!

It’s summertime and most of us will squeeze in a vacation with our family and/or friends. If you’re like me, (and probably most of America) you work extra hard to make sure everything is nicely buttoned up before you leave. Then you head out on your annual vacation, likely much more exhausted than normal.

THE VACATION BEGINS

After a drive or a flight, and unexpected delays, you finally arrive. It’s time to hurry up and rest. It takes me two to three days to unwind and shake off the fog of work and the pressures of my world. I get one really great calm day in the middle where my wife recognizes the guy she married – that’s a really good day.

Then over the last two-three days, even though I try to resist, I often begin to dread the mound of work that is building up at my office. To make sure the wave of work is not building too large, I take a couple of hours each day to peek at my email, make a few calls, and solve a few client problems.

I can feel my work world creeping back in as the vacation ends. On the first day after most vacations, work rolls over me unapologetically, like a massive wave, tossing me around like the shells on the beach I just left behind. This does not sound like a vacation. It does not feel like a vacation. I know I was gone. I know I had some fun. I’ve got pictures to prove it. But I’m still tired. What’s up with that?

When did it become so challenging to plan and take time away for rest? Click To Tweet Why is is so hard to take a few days away from work, feeling clear-minded, confident, with a restful return?

YOU NEED THE VACATION

Even Jesus knew how difficult it was to manage all of a worker’s responsibilities well. He knew how tired and drained a person can get. Even the disciples had difficulty stopping their mission to rest, so Jesus had to interrupt them and remind them.

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Mark 6:30-32 ESV

Like the disciples following Jesus, and serving those God put in their path, we each work in our respective positions to accomplish the goals asked of us.

THE 7 STEPS

You work hard at your job to earn a living. You set goals and reach them. You make sales that make profits.  You serve people in your nonprofit or ministry. You manage people to accomplish objectives. That’s the reality of work. If work wasn’t hard they would call it fun. And I pray that each of us keep Him at the focus of our work so we bring Him glory in all the work that we do.

About ten years ago I prepared to take two weeks off work. It was awesome. I discovered seven tangible and practical steps that can lay the foundation to have your best vacation ever!

  1. Pray for your time away – you know that God wants you to rest. You know your employer wants you rested and ready. He wants you strong and He wants your family strong. Ask those near you to pray for your vacation.
  1. Build your emergency response team – In the event of an emergency, have at least three (3) trusted peers who are well-equipped to handle any technical, operational or interpersonal situation. In return, you can be on their emergency response team when they take vacation.
  1. Silence is golden – make no contact with the office and ask them to make no contact with you.  Set your email to “off-line”. As I temporarily turn off my electronics and connections to my office, I will intentionally turn on my connections with my family and Jesus. Your emergency response team is there for a reason – trust in your preparation and let your team serve you as you will serve them.
  1. Set phone limits, own your vacation life – consider purchasing a Tracfone (or similar device) and give the number to your family or friends in the event of a family emergency.  There are also settings on smart phone  to set “do not disturb”. Discuss ahead of time what warrants an emergency. Remember, no one ever wants bad news and good news can wait.
  1. Plan to play, plan to rest – for every vacation day that you plan, consider leaving a day un-planned. I know that sounds crazy to you planners out there, but take a deep breath and let me explain my heresy. Something very special happens when you leave room for God to show up in your leisure. Sometimes, He may show up as a nap by the ocean, an afternoon movie with your spouse, or an unexpected conversation with your child, but He will show up if you prepare, and are aware, for Him.
  1. Expect delays and embrace them – No matter when you travel, expect delays and be ready for them when they come. Have some activities planned for a few extra hours in the airport. Who knows…an unexpected overnight at the Airport hotel, a pillow fight and pizza in front of a movie may be the most special moment of your trip!
  1. Pray and have faith that God will take care of you and your work – I think this is what it all boils down to. We need to believe that God will honor our time away and take care of our work in our absence. That doesn’t guarantee no problems when you return, but it does guarantee He will be right there with you.

I plan to do better on vacation this summer. I know now that my time and rest with my family is ordained by God and it is His sincere desire for me after my hard work. I’m going to prepare well in ”true disciple fashion”, and I pray to enjoy a desolate place and rest a while.

Your work can wait. Your rest cannot. Jesus is waiting. Your family is too.  Trust God to take care of things while you are away and may this year be your best vacation ever!

DO YOU NEED A LITTLE VacATION READING MATERIAL? DOWNLOAD the first chapter of my new book here!

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