THE RUINING OF VACATION: Reflections for Labor Day


Written by Eliza Bast /
September 6, 2016

THE RUINING OF VACATION: Reflections for Labor Day

Labor Day weekend is approaching, and for many of us, it’s the last hurrah before the sprint of the ministry year.  Back to Church rolls into Trunk or Treat which jumps into the holidays. We ring in the New Year while praying it’s an off year that gives us more time before Lent. After the Easter sprint, we can smell the whiff of paint from the children’s ministry planning for VBS.  For most ministries, we stand back, our eyes glazed over, looking at the calendar for that down time that never seems perfect, never seems enough.

Project: TimeOff recently released their study on how Americans are beginning to see, and experience, their vacation time.  They noticed a shift that may be ruining vacation.  By their estimation, in 2015, over 55 percent of Americans left vacation time unused.  That means an estimated 658 million combined vacation days were left untaken.  What happened?  In 2015, they saw the rise of what is now being termed, the “work martyr”.

The work martyr is one who wants desperately to be seen as the one at their job that is working the hardest and sacrificing the most.

Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed desired to be seen by their boss as a “work martyr”, with that number rocketing to 48% for Millennials.  In fact, 42% of Millennials admitted to shaming their co-workers for taking their vacation time.

The work martyr believes they are the only ones who can do their job.  They are nervous to leave because they are worried people will think they are replaceable.  They feel guilty for taking that downtime away.  Worse, they want to prove their utmost dedication to their ministry or church.

Have we just fallen in love with working?

Well, not exactly.  Eighty-six percent of those surveyed hated being seen as a work martyr at home.  Deep inside we know what this does to our families, our relationships, our souls.  You see, the one place where we shouldn’t ever want to be replaced is in our marriages and friendships.  The one arena we should plant our flags of undying loyalty is first to Jesus, and then to the institutions that preserve our health, our joy, our authenticity.  Are we replaceable?  Absolutely.  As leaders and disciples who are raising up leaders and disciples, we should always leave space for the next iteration and wave that God wants to use to bless the people He loves.  Only one person went to the ultimate cross for the love of His church.  And he did it, so we wouldn’t have to.

God loves Sabbath.  You should too.  Take the Labor Day.

And consider that week in November.  Go out West this winter.  Encourage your staff to do the same.  Help them find the balance they need to create the ministry lives God intended.  Create a culture that sends people on vacation with blessing.

Go on vacation.

Written by Eliza Bast


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