Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Vacation

You know how there are some things that we know we should be doing, but don’t actually do? For me, one of those things is taking time off. I talk a lot about balance and getting rest, taking time off, recharging, blah, blah, blah… But I don’t actually do it very well. The truth of this was driven home to me last week. I was filling out my PTO (Paid Time Off) form for my week off this week. I have a spreadsheet that tracks how much time I have left and how much I’ve used. In the last 12 months, I’ve taken 7 PTO days off. I get 24 a year and since I’m now starting year two, I currently have 41 PTO days in my bank.

At first, that sounds great. But consider the fact that I’ve only taken 7 off in 12 months. At that rate, It would take almost 6 years to use the days I have if I didn’t get any more. And that’s kind of a problem.

I started off the previous 12 months pretty well. Then right after Christmas everything went haywire. By February, my staff went from 2 to 0. It took until mid-August to completely fix that. We started a massive 12-week lighting upgrade project. We swapped out almost all of audio. Several of my primary go-to contractors left. To a certain extent, it was a perfect storm. Add in VBS, a Night of Worship and a few other big events and you get what I got. No rest.

Now, it’s easy to look back and see the failings of the past 12 months. It’s harder to develop a plan to fix it. I’ve been reading a book called Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. One thing they advocate when trying to enact change is what they call “Shape the Path.” That is, leading people down a path that ends at the result you want. So, one of the things I’ll be doing this week is looking at my calendar and blocking out some weeks and weekends that I’m going to take off. Having them on a calendar makes them real for me, and I will do what needs to be done to make it happen. I don’t like to miss deadlines, so I have to make time off a deadline.

I also need to do the same thing with my new ATD. I need to make sure he doesn’t get to the end of his 12 months and find he’s only taken 7 days off. That won’t be good for either of us.

This week, I’m taking time to sleep, catch up on some reading, watching a few movies and concerts and more sleep. I may also do some writing as I find that life-giving. If you don’t see much from me on here this week, you’ll now know that sleep took over the week.

What about you? Do you take enough time off during the year? If not, why not? If so, how do you make it a priority?

And check out the book I mentioned, it’s really quite good.

12 Comments

  1. alexander.henriksson@netikka.fi

    Running my own company makes my situation even worse at times. That is, work around the clock. It is inspiring to read how others handle the situation. Thanks!

  2. alexander.henriksson@netikka.fi

    Running my own company makes my situation even worse at times. That is, work around the clock. It is inspiring to read how others handle the situation. Thanks!

  3. Jason@WalkerBaptistChurch.org

    I find that those of us actively involved in ministry often neglect the concept of “Sabbath”. We are often so busy on Sundays making sure that everything goes smoothly that we forget that it is supposed to be a day of rest. Just as the body needs ample rest time to regenerate at night, our spirits need sufficient rest time for renewal. I find that being intentional about taking time off makes me a better minister when I am “in the office”. Enjoy some rest and relaxation!

  4. Jason@WalkerBaptistChurch.org

    I find that those of us actively involved in ministry often neglect the concept of “Sabbath”. We are often so busy on Sundays making sure that everything goes smoothly that we forget that it is supposed to be a day of rest. Just as the body needs ample rest time to regenerate at night, our spirits need sufficient rest time for renewal. I find that being intentional about taking time off makes me a better minister when I am “in the office”. Enjoy some rest and relaxation!

  5. tgibson@efccl.org

    Mike,

    This is going to sound “ruder” than it is, but how does your wife let you get away with that? My marriage would be a mess if I didn’t take my vacation days. As much as I love my job and they love me, family comes first. Jen and I regularly talk about my vacation days, how many I have left, and what we will do on them. In fact I’m taking a day off next Friday since my daughter has off from school and we’re going to the zoo.

    I’m also surprised that your boss isn’t looking out for you in this manner as well. After our Christmas production is over, my boss will frequently “kick me out” of the church and send me home to spend time with my family.

    Not meaning to come across as mean, but that doesn’t sound healthy. And this is a problem nationwide in the American church. “We” as church employees can (and do) get burned out. Anne Jackson wrote an excellent book about this exact problem titled “Mad Church Disease.” I highly recommend it for every church worker (esp techie). Check out her website for info and some exceprts: http://flowerdust.net/books-anne-jackson/.

    Again, I hope I’m not coming across as a jerk, I’ve just seen this too many times.

    In love,

    Tim

  6. tgibson@efccl.org

    Mike,

    This is going to sound “ruder” than it is, but how does your wife let you get away with that? My marriage would be a mess if I didn’t take my vacation days. As much as I love my job and they love me, family comes first. Jen and I regularly talk about my vacation days, how many I have left, and what we will do on them. In fact I’m taking a day off next Friday since my daughter has off from school and we’re going to the zoo.

    I’m also surprised that your boss isn’t looking out for you in this manner as well. After our Christmas production is over, my boss will frequently “kick me out” of the church and send me home to spend time with my family.

    Not meaning to come across as mean, but that doesn’t sound healthy. And this is a problem nationwide in the American church. “We” as church employees can (and do) get burned out. Anne Jackson wrote an excellent book about this exact problem titled “Mad Church Disease.” I highly recommend it for every church worker (esp techie). Check out her website for info and some exceprts: http://flowerdust.net/books-anne-jackson/.

    Again, I hope I’m not coming across as a jerk, I’ve just seen this too many times.

    In love,

    Tim

  7. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Tim,
    You don’t sound rude at all; in fact you’re on target by and large. My wife is a very patient woman and knows I do everything 100% or not at all. She usually lets me go as hard as I feel I need to. Maybe that’s good, maybe it’s not. And to be fair, my boss does regularly suggest I take time off. My background as an entrepreneur and business owner makes it tough for me to not own every single deadline completely. In fact, this week was a breakthrough for me–I came to a place where I didn’t really care if the entire weekend crashed and burned (not that it would just because I wasn’t there, but this is where I had to go mentally), I was taking a weekend off. So, progress.

    You are correct, Mad Church Disease is a great book. I read it last year; though perhaps it’s time for a refresher…

    Thanks, Tim!
    mike

  8. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Tim,
    You don’t sound rude at all; in fact you’re on target by and large. My wife is a very patient woman and knows I do everything 100% or not at all. She usually lets me go as hard as I feel I need to. Maybe that’s good, maybe it’s not. And to be fair, my boss does regularly suggest I take time off. My background as an entrepreneur and business owner makes it tough for me to not own every single deadline completely. In fact, this week was a breakthrough for me–I came to a place where I didn’t really care if the entire weekend crashed and burned (not that it would just because I wasn’t there, but this is where I had to go mentally), I was taking a weekend off. So, progress.

    You are correct, Mad Church Disease is a great book. I read it last year; though perhaps it’s time for a refresher…

    Thanks, Tim!
    mike

  9. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Jason,
    That is one thing that’s kept me somewhat sane over the last 6 months. I have been pretty good about taking my two days off every week. Last year, I re-arranged my schedule to take Monday & Tuesday off. That seemingly small thing has helped me survive the marathon I just came off of. And it’s one of the reasons I love the church I work for; they see the importance of balance and give us two actual days off. From an hours standpoint, Saturday & Sunday are full workdays for me, so it’s great to get a “weekend” off after my week ends.

    And you are correct, when those get skipped, like they did for much of July, things get rough quickly.
    mike

  10. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Jason,
    That is one thing that’s kept me somewhat sane over the last 6 months. I have been pretty good about taking my two days off every week. Last year, I re-arranged my schedule to take Monday & Tuesday off. That seemingly small thing has helped me survive the marathon I just came off of. And it’s one of the reasons I love the church I work for; they see the importance of balance and give us two actual days off. From an hours standpoint, Saturday & Sunday are full workdays for me, so it’s great to get a “weekend” off after my week ends.

    And you are correct, when those get skipped, like they did for much of July, things get rough quickly.
    mike

  11. tgibson@efccl.org

    Mike,

    Good to hear you do have accountability in place. Even though you’ve been going crazy, at least you have that in place. As I’m sure you know, so many church employees (techs for sure) do not have that support.

    Also good to hear about the 2 days off per week. My last church only gave me 1 day off per week and that was one of the big differences I noticed right away in this church. It makes a big difference.

    Keep up the good work.

    tim

  12. tgibson@efccl.org

    Mike,

    Good to hear you do have accountability in place. Even though you’ve been going crazy, at least you have that in place. As I’m sure you know, so many church employees (techs for sure) do not have that support.

    Also good to hear about the 2 days off per week. My last church only gave me 1 day off per week and that was one of the big differences I noticed right away in this church. It makes a big difference.

    Keep up the good work.

    tim

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