Family on beach
What are the goals for your vacations? Do you actually get to enjoy them? (iStock photo)

I recently returned from a beach destination wedding. Someone has to do those, you know.

Cheryl and I tacked on a few days of vacation since we were at the beach. It was refreshing.

As I was finishing my last vacation run—vacation runs are the best—a friend texted me. He's a great leader and we've talked often about leadership issues—and the stress of leadership. When he learned I was heading home from vacation, he asked me a powerful question. I'm not even sure he knew how powerful, but knowing him, he was probably asking with intentionality.

He asked, "Excited to be going back or dreading it?"

My friend wanted to know—and encourage me to think—if my vacation had been successful. He knows the purpose of vacation.

Do you?

What is the purpose of vacation? Another way I might ask this question: What are the goals of a vacation?

Here are my thoughts on 5 goals of vacation for the church leader:

1. Rest. God has actually given us a Biblical command to rest—to Sabbath—as if He knows something about what we need. (Duh!) You may not "rest" like everyone else, but everyone should rest. This particular friend that texted me was also returning from vacation. He does something that I think shows he understands his need for rest. He leaves his work cell phone with his administrative assistant when he goes on vacation.

How cool is that? I know because I texted him while he was gone and she texted me back. Intentional. Love it. Rest should be a huge goal of taking a vacation. We all need it.

2. Reconnect. Vacation should allow us time to restore relationships to maximum health. With God. With family. With ourself. The busyness of life can strain relationships. Vacation gives you the opportunity to pause and get back to optimum health with the most important relationships in our life. On vacation, I talk to God more. I spend deeper quality time with Cheryl. We date more intensely—ask each other more questions. In years past, I got to spend more time with my boys on vacation. (I'm an empty nester now.) But, vacation helps me reconnect to those I love the most.

3. Play. We all need to play—regardless of our age. We fuel all the rest of these with this one. As I said already, I run more on vacation. That's my form of play. But, when I run, I'm better equipped for all the other goals. You may not be a runner, but you have things you enjoy doing that aren't work. (I tweeted from vacation that a friend of mine got a Lego set for Father's Day. Cool playing to come for that dad!) Playing enhances my mental energies, my creativity, and my enjoyment of life. Making time to play—with whatever you enjoy doing—is a great goal for vacations.

4. Dream. What's next for you? What are you looking forward to doing in the future? One of Cheryl and my greatest enjoyments on vacation is dreaming about where we see ourselves in a year, 5 years, 10 years, into retirement. We also dream where we could see our boys and their families. We dream about careers, personal interests, places we'd love to travel. Dreaming stretches our mind and heart towards each other and energizes us about our future together. A great vacation goal is to take time to dream.

5. Rejuvenate. Vacation should help you reengage with your work when you return. That's the understanding my friend had about vacation. And, it is a huge goal. This will be hard to say to some, and some may disagree, but if you leave vacation dreading going back to work, it maybe you don't know how to do vacation or you're in the wrong job. It's work. I get that. We all have Mondays we dread. The day back doesn't have to be the most fun day at work ever, but a goal of vacation is to help us recover so we can gather more energies to do the work we were designed to do.

Does that describe your vacation? What goals do you have for vacation?

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit

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