Vacations-Take Them

Posted by: Steve Marr in Leadership on Oct 08, 2004

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Sam was traveling through the West with his family, exploring the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Several times a day, his cell phone rang, and Sam answered the call to respond to questions from his staff, whether he was riding in the car, or viewing an attraction. As the trip went on, his family grimaced with every ring.


While Sally and her husband were vacationing in Aruba, she checked her e-mail several times a day. For an hour or more each day, she clicked away, reading and answering e-mails, while her husband became increasingly impatient. It seemed she was more interested in her e-mail than in their time together. 

We all need time off, and we need to rest from work. Even the Lord rested after creating everything. "He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Genesis 2:2, NASB). When we fail to rest, we endanger our health and our family relationships.

A major denomination studied the high medical expenses experienced by its pastors. They were surprised that the pastors' medical expenses were above the national average, because the pastors refrained from tobacco and alcohol. The assumption was that their medical costs would be lower than average, not higher. After completing the study, the researchers concluded that the pastors' expenses were higher because many of them failed to take appropriate rest, and as a result incurred more illnesses. 

Many people fall into common vacation traps by becoming procrastinators, e-mailers, or deceivers.

Procrastinators hold off on scheduling vacation time until there is too much work to do and not enough time. Consequently, they never take time off. To avoid this trap, plan your vacation time early in the year. Make reservations to go somewhere, or plan how you will spend your vacation time if you decide to stay at home. 

Advances in technology make staying in touch easy-at times too easy. E-mailers take a computer along on vacation to check up on e-mails. Unfortunately, reading and responding to e-mails will keep you focused on business, not on your vacation or your family. If some of your e-mails will require a response while you're gone, set up an auto response and include the name of a contact person who can respond in your absence if the issue can't wait. Also, if you send out an advance notice of your vacation to customers and colleagues, it will help them plan for your absence.

Deceivers hide their office contact, perhaps by saying they are going for a walk when in truth they are calling the office. One man, who was on a cruise at his wife's insistence to keep work interruptions from ruining their vacation, said that he was going for a massage, only to be caught in the e-mail lounge collecting and answering e-mails. 

When businesspeople can't leave the office behind, family members may retaliate by turning off cell phones, hiding the battery charger, or giving the offender the cold shoulder.

Failure to get away-and stay away-from work is often the result of poor planning. In order to be an effective leader, build a team that can function without you. Train your staff and organize the work to go smoothly in your absence. Leave guidelines as to which decisions can be made in your absence, and which should be deferred until your return. If your staff cannot work effectively without you, you will not be promotable and the growth of your business will be hindered.

Pride can also be a factor, such as when we just don't believe that anybody can handle things as well as we can, or when we need to feel in control all the time, even when we're on vacation. The reality is that any one of us could be "hit by a bus" tomorrow and the work would need to go on without us. We need to keep in mind that if God himself saw fit to rest, we also should take our rest. By taking proactive steps, and establishing effective boundaries, you can make your vacation a positive time for you and your family.

Steve Marr, Your christian Business Coach