Sick Day Sunday

What happens when the pastor is sick on Sunday? 
  • It can throw his whole household upside down.
  • It could provide a quiet day of recuperation.
  • It may mean that life goes on as usual. 

Sick days may be provided and allowed for – officially – but it isn’t always that simple.
  • What if a church has only one pastor?
  • What if a decision has to be made the night before?
  • What if the ‘emergency sub’ or associate staff is on vacation?
  • What if the symptoms don’t show up until right before (or during) the worship hour?

Sometimes the reality of calling in sick on a Sunday just isn’t doable. Unless the illness is very significant the luxury of taking time off is not practical or realistic. So, how do you help your husband survive the “I feel horrible” Sundays when he still chooses to faithfully show up to work? 
  • With gentleness and kindness
  • With your presence of support
  • With an understanding ear
  • With a lunch menu of his choosing (if he wants to eat at all!)
  • With a quiet home
  • With medicine
  • With an extra dose of patience
  • and with a whole lot of prayer!

As yokemates and partners with our husbands, some of our most valuable ministry moments happen when we simply love and care for our pastor – that sweet husband of ours! And, it is not too much to ask God to put His hand of healing on his life as well. I have witnessed Sunday mornings when God has answered those prayers. Amazingly, sinuses stop running, speech becomes clear, upset stomachs settle down and headaches disappear! The symptoms often return after the services conclude and we are headed home, but that’s okay. God’s provision in the moment allowed the message to be shared clearly and effectively. (Why do I always get so surprised when God answers prayers in such a tangible and remarkable way? It is very humbling and inspiring!)

On the flip side, there is also a dilemma created when the pastor actually takes a sick day. So... do you stay home too, or do you go to church? Obviously, your personal routine could stay the same if all your hubby needs is some rest - or to just stay away from others and contain the germs! If you choose to go to church – whether it’s just you or you have kids – it may be one of the best ways to provide a quiet home for a few hours.

Through the years, I've tried different strategies. There were days when I dropped the kids off at the church so they could at least go to Sunday School or Children’s Church. This allowed me to be available for my husband and got the kids out of the house. (Plus, they were always upset if they had to miss out!) The years when we had two services - and my kids were sick - I asked a friend to stay at the house with the sick one so I could get out of the house for an hour and attend one of the services too. She loved serving, and I loved her servant heart! And, then there were even a rare time or two when I just hibernated with my husband at home. Sometimes you just need to take a break from the inquisitive, yet well-meaning individuals, who are sure to have a myriad of questions ready for you concerning their pastor’s well-being. Sometimes, I just needed quiet too.

There is no “right” way to do it, and every sick day has its own set of challenges. To help you be prepared for the possibility of sickness on Sunday, you may want to consider getting a back-up plan ready just in case you may need some help in the future.

1. Do you have a substitute to cover for your ministry obligations - or a strategy if you must miss a Sunday?
2. Does your husband have a substitute he can call at a moment’s notice to fill in for him?
3. Do you have someone who can watch your sick kid(s) so that you can attend church for part of the morning?

While weighing the options of what to do when sickness hits your home, don't forget to take into account ‘the contagion factor.’ No one wants to spread their bug to others, so check for fevers, refrain from hand-shaking and hugging or maybe even come late to service and/or leave early – allowing participation, but not interaction with a lot of people. And last but not least, pray for wisdom for you and your husband to know when it is wise to 'push through' and when it is best to stay home. 

Here's a couple verses from James that can surely help each of us to better deal with the inevitable sick day that may come our way. 

James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

When is the last time you specifically asked God for wisdom on a specific topic in your life - including illness?

James 4:2b – “You do not have because you do not ask God.”

We often ask God to heal others, but when was the last time you asked for healing in your own life? Perhaps our all-powerful God is just waiting for us to come to Him - and ask.


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