I’m currently on holidays… and I have a problem.
Like me, you have probably heard a lot about appropriate boundaries and taking sufficient annual leave. Each year, in our January staff meeting, we all lock in our holidays for the next 12 months. The problem, which I assume I am not alone in confronting, is the timing of my current holidays.
At the moment, in Australia, we are in the middle of a school term. Is it reasonable for a youth pastor to take time off during school term? (To be clear, I usually take time off when kids are also on vacation.) Is it reasonable for a church to “strongly suggest” that you cannot take a week off at another time?
I’m genuinely torn about the issue. I have known/worked for churches where this isn’t an issue and known others where it has caused major fallout. Trouble is, I can make an argument for both sides. If you plan ahead, let everyone know and adequately resource others, is there a problem? If you use this time to evaluate the ministries reliance on your personality and utilise this time as a chance to train up others, are your holidays reasonable? Additionally, if you have a jam packed “holiday window between terms” through camps/mission trips and forward planning, is it fair to go six months (or more) without time off? Alternately, there are plenty of “down times” in youth ministry due to the layout of the school year. Should it be your responsibility to arrange that your holidays fall in this time frame?
If other jobs, retail particularly, can dictate time frames where their employees cannot take leave (usually November to mid-January), why should those within the church be immune to this reality?
I would love to know how youth ministers and churches have dealt with this issue.
Graham Baldock is a Youth Pastor from Sydney, Australia and has a youth ministry blog worth checking out at grahambaldock.blogspot.com