Will you get a holiday this Summer? I hope you do. After the year we have all experienced, time away and time out would be a wonderful way to gain renewed strength and equilibrium for all that the autumn and winter ahead might have in store.

Reading The Shepherd Leader at Home by Timothy Z. Witmer I am reminded that holiday provides not just a negative absence from work, but much needed positive opportunity for physical, emotional and spiritual renewal.

Here are some suggestions which he makes:-

Take the time to show that family is a priority. If we are to shepherd children and care for them well, we need to spend not just quality time but quantity time, too. This is what holidays are for. The primary dynamic in every relationship is knowing and being known. How well do we really know our children?

How well do they really know us? It is important that we know our children well, in-as-much as they look to us for guidance in everything from which friends are good, to what interests to pursue, and to what colleges to apply.

How are we going to know the best way to guide them if we don’t know our children or grandchildren? If we go for a hike, we learn whether they are determined to finish or want to give up soon after starting. If we play a game, we learn if they are gloating or gracious winners; sore or humble losers.

In being together for a longer period of time, we learn how they relate to others, too. Do they share, or are they selfish? Do they always have to be the centre of attention, or are they concerned for the interests of others? Pitch in and help, or expect to be served? How do they deal with conflict? Do they bear grudges, or are they quick to repent and quick to forgive? All of these are teachable moments in which we have the opportunity to help them walk in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

Of course, this means staying off our “devices” except for limited times. In other words, “be present.” Unfortunately even when people are together, they can be alone, zeroed in on their phones and tablets.

Have conversations about the hike we were on that day or our plans for the next day. Plan to do things together. Don’t just go your way and they go theirs. You don’t need to do everything together, but be sure to plan some significant activities that you will share.

Summer holiday also gives children an opportunity to see us in action, too. It is a key time for us to be an example:- that the Lord is a priority in our life. It shows if we are just talking the talk or walking the walk. Another way for us to indicate that the Lord is a priority is what we do on Sunday. How important really is the Lord’s Day? How important is it for you to gather with others to worship the living God? Keep on coming to Bloomfield those Sundays you are not away!

Carefully choosing and attending church while away can be an important part of the holiday. If it’s not possible to find a church, then remember we are still on line in BPC and the Kidzone programme is available every week.

Otherwise it’s not difficult to read a short Scripture, make a comment, sing a song & pray. If family devotions are a practice at home, do your best to keep them up while away. If family devotions are not a practice, consider purchasing a family devotional guide with a short reading for each day. Make it a joyful time. Who knows? Perhaps this will become a new habit at home.

If personal devotions are a practice ordinarily, keep them going, too. Sometimes while away it is possible to spend a little extra time reflecting on where the Lord has brought us and considering what he has in mind for the future. The bottom line is that while our time away is a break from the regular workday routines of life, it is not a break from the priority of our relationship with the Lord.

In conclusion, it is a blessing to have time off. If we are fortunate enough to have a holiday based at home or in another place, take time to spend with family. That’s not the right word! Take the time to invest in family and you will create a legacy that will be remembered long after they have left home and have families of their own.

With huge blessings from Frank