You need a vacation. There, I gave you permission. Of course, I also know the fear that comes from even thinking about the V word for most who work in ministry. Vacation is terrifying for many of us because we feel the burden of how important each weekend is.

So follow these steps with me, look at this as your vacation guide. It’s time to stop being scared of vacations and prepare for a great one.

Realize the world won’t fall apart without you.

Many church workers get their identity from feeling like the machine won’t run without them. But it’s a toxic mentality. First of all, it isn’t true. Secondly, though, it keeps the ministry from growing. If it can’t function without you, it’ll never get bigger than you.

You might be saying: “There’s no one who can do it like me.” That might be true at the moment. But you’ll never find someone to pick up the ball until you let it drop. Be strategic and find who can help carry the burden of your ministry.

Choose a right-hand that will take over for you.

Let the person you find begin shadowing you. Don’t hide anything from them. Walk them through everything you do…actual tasks as well as the reason behind them.  Be sure you don’t feel threatened if they point out areas where things could be better. Remember: We want our ministries to outgrow us. You won’t become obsolete; you’ll become a team.

Take a back-seat one Sunday while they run the show.

Let your right-hand do everything one or two weekends before it’s time for your vacation. If you’ve prepared them well enough, they can do it. Also, be sure to give them some flexibility. They might do it even better than you if you give them a chance to spread their wings. And this brings me to my next step.

Allow failures, identify potential failures, and train to them.

Sometimes you need to sacrifice a single service so you can prepare someone to succeed in the many that will come in the future. Allow small failures while also protecting your right-hand from embarrassment. Own everything that goes wrong during this time. And then use the failures or even areas where failure might have happened to become training points.

Sometimes you never know everything that can go wrong until you step out of the picture. Better to do that before you’re actually out of the picture instead of letting them crash and burn with no life preserver during your vacation.

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As you watch, write down a checklist of what’s going on.

As you’re watching your right-hand run the ministry, write down a checklist of what they’re doing. This can be a backup for while you’re gone, but it can also be a great training tool for the future. After all, there will probably be a Sunday in the future where both you and your right-and want to go on vacation at the same time.

Never assume people won’t need certain bits of information while you’re gone.

Next, create a list of passwords, proprietary information, or other secret bits that you have. You might assume nobody will need the password to the computer that you always leave on, but all it takes is a power failure the night before to ruin that assumption.

There are countless unexpected situations that will arise. Hackers. Power failures. Last-minute changes to ideas. Just set your team up for success in the face of the unexpected. Worst case scenario, if they mess something up, you’ll fix it when you get back.

Check in the night before and go through it all.

Be available the hour before first service starts the morning of.  You’re almost there. Just schedule some time on your vacation to check in the night before. This might mean paying a little extra money if you’re traveling internationally or getting up early/late if you’re in a different time zone. On your first vacation, just be prepared for this. Make the negligible sacrifice. It’ll set you up for success in future vacations.

So there you go! A vacation guide tailored just for you!  Now go enjoy some pura vida in Costa Rica. Go cliff-sitting in Iceland. Bury your feet in some South Beach sand. Just take a vacation! Your longevity in ministry depends on your emotional health. Take a break and stay healthy, my friends.