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“Reflection turns experience into insight.” ~ John Maxwell

Today is my first day back in the office after a week of much-needed time off. The multi-shaded blue waters of the Great Lakes, the beautiful forests, great food, and time detached from the work we love made for a fabulous week! We all need a vacation from our vocation.

I’ve been reflecting on our time off, and what do you know. . . a few insights bubbled to the surface of my brain. (Maxwell is right). And I’d like to share these insights with you.

It takes time to unwind

I have a tendency to get wound pretty tight (Laura will testify to that). What I didn’t realize was how tightly wound I was this time around. By Day 2 of vacation I could feel myself loosening up, and by Day 4—I felt relaxed. With this first insight in mind, it probably would have been a good idea to lengthen the duration of vacation, but regardless, I eventually got to the relaxation stage, And it was extremely refreshing.

Psalm 46:10 is one of my favorite Old Testament scriptures: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Another Bible translation puts it this way: “Cease striving, and know that I am God.” Relaxing while surrounded by God’s magnificent handiwork gets us out of busy and into stillness. It’s in those dialed-down moments God tends to reveal Himself to us. But it usually takes a few days for us to unwind

No news is good news

Being disconnected from the goings on in our country was therapeutic. My peace level measurably improved by not having fear, lies, and conspiracy theories shoved down my throat. Six days of not being bombarded by constant arguing and negativity was tonic for my soul. And I’m seriously considering making this particular disconnection permanent.

Some may object: “You’re sticking your head in the sand!”

Hey—I could probably tell you what was on the news without even watching it. It’s become predictable. The same gotcha reporting by talking heads who live in a world out of touch with normal people like you and me, who don’t really care about normal people like you and me. Who needs it? What you feed on controls you. Removing the news media from my diet was healthy in every way.

God is an amazing Creator

The stunning beauty of the Great Lakes, the endless line of tall trees, and the awe-inspiring abundance of stars at night, visible away from the ambient light of the big city, freshly impressed on me the brilliance of God’s creative genius. Being immersed in nature’s grandeur is a spiritual experience for me. I know this may sound kooky, but I feel loved by God when I’m in the middle of in His creative handiwork. It some way it seems like He dreamed it all up for me to enjoy, to remind me of how big He is. His knack for stunning beauty produces awe in me for Him. When I’m around His creative genius, I can feel the stress leaving my body, and my spirit and emotions being renewed.

I really love my family

You’re probably thinking, “well duh!” I know this insight seems obvious, but for me, vacation gets me back in touch with how much I love Laura and the boys. Uninterrupted time with them reminds me they’re my most important ministry. That doesn’t mean I avoid working diligently at my calling. Vacation from my vocation this time simply reinforced the following reality: if we succeed in our calling and fail with our family . . . we’ve failed. The most important disciples in our lives live under our own roof. You can be a great family man or woman and incredibly productive at what God’s assigned to you from a ministry perspective. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Time vacating gets me excited to start vocating again 

Dr. Jade Teta puts it this way: “Work and rest are synergists, not opposites.”

I love what I do for a living. When you love what you do, you’re at more risk of overwork than most people—because what you do often doesn’t feel like work. Even so, during the four weeks preceding our vacation, both Laura and I were scraping the bottom of the barrel energy-wise. A week off has filled us up. I’m pumped to get back to work. Vacation teaches us that rest actually helps us to vocate more enthusiastically and effectively. A healthy rhythm of work and rest sets us up to be more productive.

“Who has time for vacation?” you may wonder. If you’re a leader, a convenient time hardly ever presents itself.  You have to carve out vacation space because you know it’s vital to your well-being, your family’s health, and your leadership shelf-life.

So leader—are you frazzled? Running on emotional fumes? Feeling disconnected from your spouse and kids? Let me ask you: When was the last time you took a real vacation? No work, no phone calls, no emails, no sermon prep, no work-related reading? If it’s been a long time (six months or more)—get out your calendar, sit down with your spouse, and figure out a time to get away. . . for real. I suspect you’ll return from vacation more in love with your spouse and kids, refreshed physically, spiritually, and emotionally; and ready to tackle your calling with renewed energy.

Let’s vacation from our vocation.

I’m rooting and praying for you!

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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