Dear Addie,
I am several months into a new ministry position and am enjoying the experience very much. But today, on my day off, I am wondering what the “proper” protocol is for ministers on their days off. Am I supposed to answer emails today? Take phone calls? Should the office give out my cell number and put calls through to me? I don’t think we covered “day off” guidelines in seminary. Help!
Just Wanting Some Peace and Quiet

Dear Peace and Quiet,

Congratulations on your new ministry position! Setting boundaries early in your tenure will be helpful for you and your congregation.

Prepare an automatic response on your work email account that is triggered on your day off to notify senders that you will not be reading your email until you are back in the office. Include a sentence that instructs them who to call if they need a reply that day (Hint: It’s not you). Allow calls that come to your cellphone or home phone to go to voicemail; then you can listen to the message before deciding whether the call merits a response that day (Hint: It probably doesn’t). Just because someone calls you at home doesn’t mean you are obligated to respond immediately. Do not instruct the church office to give out your cell number on your day off. Provide the office with guidelines about what constitutes an emergency – you likely want to be notified of a birth, a death, a hospitalization, or some other time-sensitive situation.

Although you may feel awkward initially having these conversations with office staff and congregants, remember that this is a teachable moment. By modeling how to carve out time for rest and reflection, you are empowering others to do the same in their personal lives. You will be more creative, more engaged, and more effective in your ministry if you make time for Sabbath rest.

Get some rest!