On Monday I started a blog series about my recent month-long sabbatical. You can read the first part here. In this second installment of the series, I want to tell you what I did.
Since I wanted to be very intentional with my time away from ministry, I structured my sabbatical around three agenda items:
- Resting – giving myself permission to sleep, relax, and resume a normal pace of life
- Reconnecting – deliberately reconnecting with God, my family, and my life vision
- Recharging – spending time doing things that add energy and vitality to my life
By focusing on these three things, I felt that I would hit the target of a sabbatical’s purpose which is, according to one author, “a carefully planned period of time in which the minister is granted leave away from his normal responsibilities in order to spend an extended period of time in rest, renewal, and refreshment.”
The month started with an already-planned trip to DisneyLand.
Our family loves going to Disney because we get to spend so much time together making wonderful memories. It was a refreshing time filled with fun, food, laughter, and one-of-a-kind experiences. I didn’t get a lot of rest, but it certainly checked the boxes of reconnecting and recharging.
The week after we got back from DisneyLand, I went to a cabin in southeastern Oklahoma for some time of silence, solitude, and introspection.
This was encouraged by my Elders. They felt that some time alone would do me some good, and they were right. I slept, played a little guitar, and read.
I went to the cabin pictured above with the intent of working through these four questions:
- Where am I and how did I get here?
- Where do I want to be and how do I get there?
- What changes do I need to make as a leader?
- What new habits do I need to implement?
Answering those questions honestly was painful. I couldn’t help but think of the story of Jacob wrestling with God because that’s what it felt like to me. Those questions made me confront some things about myself and my ministry that I had been ignoring for a long time. Some things that I didn’t want to admit to myself.
After several days of procrastination, avoidance, and “arguing” with myself and God, I finally had a breakthrough and was able to acknowledge some important truths about myself. I was able to achieve a sense of clarity that will guide my future and, I believe, empower me to have a more impactful ministry to others.
This wouldn’t have happened without being in a place of solitude – so thanks, Elders!
My family and I then spent the week of Thanksgiving in Breckenridge, Colorado. It was a beautiful winter wonderland. We played games, watched movies, built fires in the fireplace, ate good food, shopped, and skied…
It was awesome!
The week after that was a “soft transition” back into work – primarily because I couldn’t take it anymore and had to get back to working. I did some writing, some planning, and had the opportunity to mentor a younger preacher.
Overall, the sabbatical was a great experience. I struggled with it because all I do is work, so it was hard to not work. But I came to realize that sabbatical was work, just a different kind of work. Through it, I was working on myself so that I could be in a better position to pour into the lives of others from the overflow of a filled-up tank.
It also enabled me to right-size my approach to ministry. One preacher friend of mine says, “Preach and minister from the blessing of God instead of for the blessing of God.” My sabbatical helped me to get that equation in the correct order.
In the next post, I’ll tell you what I learned during my sabbatical.
Thanks for reading!