The Leisure Time of the Pastor

The pastor must aim to do his best work while he is serving the Lord in his respective ministry. However, if the pastor is working so much that he has no leisure time, he will end up experiencing ministerial burnout. Thus, the pastor must have a time every single week to rest and rejuvenate. This comes through a day off, taking Sabbath, intentional rest, and results in longevity in the ministry.

The Pastor’s Day Off

Rick Reed recalls his years in seminary with Dr. Bill Lawrence quoting Lewis Sperry regarding Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s life. Sperry said, “No one can have a spiritual ministry without a physical body.”[1] A large part of soul care is essentially a care for our body. While Paul did advocate that training one’s self for godliness is of value in every way, he also mentioned the fact that physical training does have value (1 Tim. 4:8).

Thus, physical exercise is, in fact, a necessary element to physical health, but pastors must also take care to prioritize their day off. This day off gives their bodies a time to reenergize for the following week and its duties. Pastors must understand that Sunday is not a day off; it is a workday. Therefore, a pastor must find another day throughout the week to rejuvenate and recuperate from the work of pastoring over the weekend. This recuperation comes from a pastor honoring Sabbath in his own life.

The Pastor’s Sabbath

Mike Glenn once preached a sermon in Southeastern Seminary’s chapel service called “The Marathon of Ministry.” In this sermon on 1 Kings 19:1-8, he says, “You step away, and you sit down. You remember the Sun came up this morning and did not ask your permission, and it will go down in the evening and will not check with you on its way by. It doesn’t depend on you, and that is good news! You need Sabbath to remember that.”[2] Dr. Glenn gets it right: Sabbath is the only way we can remember the reality that it is God who is sovereign over every single detail going on in the world, including the pastor’s life. If pastors are to neglect Sabbath, it will be a difficult task to shepherd his entrusted congregation in submissive reverence to Christ.

The Pastor’s Rest

Jared Wilson gives great wisdom to pastors who walk into their office on Monday morning tired and fatigued. He notes that while they may feel downtrodden and as if they do not amount to much, God is no less God now than he was before.[3] Pastors need to immerse themselves in the truth of Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus promises rest to those who have tirelessly worked all week for God’s glory, and this group includes pastors on Mondays. Rest is a must for those who shepherd God’s people.

The Result in Longevity

Thus, it follows that when pastors give special attention to their off day, their personal Sabbath, and finding rest in Jesus Christ, a lengthy ministry can be the result from such activities and priorities. Leroy Forlines offers some timely comments in his work, Biblical Ethics, by stating that leisure activities are necessary for the Christian life (God created such activities), but they can become, if used incorrectly, means to sinful lifestyles.[4] Therefore, pastors must pay special attention to their leisure activities in order that they may glorify the Lord and not allow them to steer toward a way of neglecting the spiritual disciplines within their lives, which could result in shorter tenures.


[1] Rick Reed. The Heart of the Preacher: Preparing Your Soul to Proclaim the Word (Bellingham, WA.: Lexham Press, 2019), 192.

[2] Southeastern Seminary, “Mike Glenn – The Marathon of Ministry – 1 Kings 19:1-8” YouTube. Online Video Clip, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DURkQMrMxJ0&t=1s.

[3] Jared C. Wilson. The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 34.

[4] F. Leroy Forlines. Biblical Ethics (Nashville: Randall House, 1973), 195-196.