Pastor and His Hobbies

Every pastor needs a hobby to break the stress of his daily duties. It was said of the Apostle John that he had a large pet fowl that he used to exercise and train. When asked why he gave that bird so much time and attention, he was reported to say that if you leave a bow strung all of the time, it loses its strength and it is the same with man.
When I first entered the pastorate, I gave up most of my hobbies to give my full attention to the pastorate and I paid dearly for it. I used to hunt, fish, and restore cars as well as drive in solo one and two competitions. My hunting was reduced to once a year with some of the men from church. My fishing was reduced to being invited once every few years to a special outing. My car interest was reduced to keeping my own car running.
Finally, when I was fully spent, I took on some new hobbies. The first was camping. Because of a limited budget, I could only camp on the ten-acre church property located out of town on a hill overlooking the river valley. I started with an old truck camper and eventually moved up to a 17 foot trailer. It was my hiding place and a place of solace but it only worked for the summer months. When the dark winter months rolled around, it took its toll on me.
My second hobby was boating. This started when my brother-in-law gave me his old wooden boat. It was a 1957 Fincraft with a 1958 Flying Scott 60 horsepower outboard motor. Now I was involved in restoration and maintenance as well as boating on a small lake. Based on the previous pastor's request, I named the boat, "Visitation". The congregation seemed to be amused by this. Of course, this is also only a summertime event.
Next, my boys and I were given a few vehicles to work on, as well as purchasing an old Mazda RX7. My sons and I worked on these vehicles, drove them, and gave some of them away to needy families. The person who sold me the Mazda ended up taking it back in a trade. He really wanted it back after I fixed it. This hobby helped develop a closer relationship with my boys that was being challenged by time spent in the ministry. I also shared this hobby with a man that I was trying to minister to. While I did not get too far with the old car that we were working on, you might say that it was still a success.
As a side note, ten years into the pastorate, I needed a break, a sabbatical. The church felt that they could not afford to have me away from the pulpit for more than two weeks at a time. Therefore upon my doctor's advise I had to leave and find a different ministry or leave the ministry all together. So, I sold everything and prepared to move to a new ministry.
Entering into a new ministry, I had no hobbies because this ministry needed my full attention 24/7. Eventually we made it a point to take a ride to Sandy Hook to walk along the ocean and the Sandy Hook Bay. Because the weather was a bit milder in New Jersey, we could take rides to the beach even in January and take long walks even though you had to bundle up a little.
Eventually, one of the deacons asked me if I would like to go sailing with his dad on Saturdays when I was available. Wow, was this enjoyable, nothing like the old Fincraft with its Flying Scott 60 screaming across the water. The sailboat was incredible and relaxing. I was hooked. Since my financial situation was a little better (no children to feed and clothe, etc.), I was able to purchase an old 1977 Oday 22. When the surveyor examined the boat, he suggested that I name it the same as my old Fincraft, "Visitation". This went over well with the congregation. Later I sold it and bought a larger 1979 Oday 25, named "Sabbatical". As time went on, however, the cost of yearly storage was more than what I paid for the boat, so I sold it for what it cost to store it in the summer slip.
The name "Sabbatical" was given to my second sailboat because when I was physically and mentally spent, the congregation agreed to give me a three month sabbatical. One of the men in the church owned a condo in Holiday, Florida, and he gave my wife and me the use of the condo for three months to relax, regroup, and recoup. Those three months not only refreshed me, it revitalized my ministry and gave me a new but Biblical perspective. It also helps when you attend a good sound Biblical teaching church similar to what you pastor. Being fed spiritually by someone else for a change is also good.
Next, we were offered an older motor home at a very low price by one of our members. We finally sold our home after being in the ministry for 27 years, took the money and bought a newer motor home. By then my father was very ill and required my help, so we combined camping and caregiving at the RV park where my parents were living. Now we go down for three months out of the winter. There is lots to see and do every day that does lower the stress level, especially watching the sun rise over the ocean every morning with my dog, Honey Bun.
My final hobby is similar to my original hobby. No, I do not drive in competition anymore, but I now have a car that is a collector’s car with late model technology and basically inexpensive to own. I enjoy taking my wife for a ride with the top down through what little country there is left in New Jersey, as well as along the Navesink River to the Mount Mitchill overlook, where we can see most of New York City, Long Island, Sandy Hook, the bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the most relaxing cars to drive that I have ever owned and yet it can get out and go when needed. Not that my sons want me to pass into eternity right now, but both have said that they would gladly take this car off my hands when I give up driving.
What effect have these hobbies had on my ministry besides giving me a diversion to relieve tension and stress? Each hobby has taught me something that I found applicable to Biblical teaching. They have broadened my application of Scripture and made it practical in a way I never thought possible. It has helped me reach and minister to people that I would have otherwise not been able to reach. I found that it harmonizes with the Apostle Paul's own illustrations given in the Scriptures. And finally, I found that the congregation appreciates a pastor that is relaxed, refreshed, and not always uptight about everything.
So be relaxed, refreshed, and ready to go!
In His Grace,
Pastor Ernest F. Brodie Sr.
Pastor Emeritus