Should a pastor take a day off every week? Here is my simple and straightforward answer: yes. No caveats. No disclaimers.  Just, yes. Here are a few reasons I feel so strongly about this:

1. Sunday is a work day for a pastor 

I know it is the Lord’s Day. I know some pastors are preaching on Sunday and some are not. Regardless, while most are getting a break from their weekly grind on Sunday, the pastor is experiencing the pinnacle of it. Sunday is a joyful day, but it is also an emotionally draining day and is far from being low-key and restful.

2. A pastor never really leaves work

Regardless how we spend our evenings or how hard we try, the pastor never completely checks out. Even if the phone does not ring or no one stops by, the sermon is still on the mind and heart, that elderly saint’s battle with cancer still weighs on the shoulders, and there just is not a clock we ever punch that magically causes us to forget about the burdens of caring for souls until 9:00 am the next morning. Although the burdens never complete leave, a day where we can try to focus on our families and escape the daily grind is invaluable for our soul and long term ministry stamina.

3. A pastor needs time when his family is really first 

There are many sacrifices and crosses to bear by the pastor’s family. Because of this, taking a day when they know they will be “dad’s focus” helps them give dad up to the busyness of the other days. There are fewer effective ways to communicate your love for your family than for them to know there is a day for them, it is scheduled regularly, and regardless the craziness, it is coming soon.

One of the best decisions I have ever made for the benefit of my family and ministry has been to commit to a day off every week. Only funerals, true emergencies, and a few other exceptions causes me to compromise it.

My day off is Friday because it fits best in our schedule. Pick a day that works best for you and your family. The point is pick a day.  Let your family and church know when that will be and stick to it.  I still manage to work about 50-60 hours a week with a day off.  For that reason alone, I am so glad I take it. My family looks forward to it. Your family will too if you schedule it in your week and honor it.

Editors’ note: This article originally appeared at Practical Shepherding.