Continuing the blog series on my month-long sabbatical, today I’ll share what I learned. If you’ve been following the series, you know that I tried to be very intentional about my time away from ministry. That intentionality served me well and allowed me to be open to new ideas, new lessons, and new observations. Here’s a few of them:
I learned that I work with a wonderful team of ministers and elders who truly care about me.
The sabbatical was proposed by my church Elders and championed by our ministers because they were genuinely concerned about my well-being. They could see how tired how I was, they knew what a difficult season it had been for me, and they realized I needed to recharge before we took the next steps in our congregation’s vision implementation process. Their willingness to take on additional duties so that I could be away, and their sincere words of appreciation for me meant more to me than the time off.
I learned that our team of ministers and elders is made up of incredibly capable individuals.
Okay, I already knew this – but it was a great reminder. I was able to step away from my duties for an entire month because I was confident in our church staff’s ability to keep things moving along without missing a beat or sacrificing excellence. My absence also gave several of them the opportunity to use their leadership muscles in a different way, which is a good thing.
I learned that I must prioritize self-care and connect it to ministry/work.
I suffer from the same mindset curse that afflicts many others in the people-helping professions: always putting myself last in order to attend to the needs of others. I realize that this is not a healthy mindset, nor is it “right thinking.” By not taking care of myself, I am actually hindering the quality of care I can give to others. I can actually do more ministry and help more people by being so “filled up” that ministry is an overflow of the deep spiritual, emotional, and physical reservoir that can only be created through deliberate self-care.
I learned that I need to pursue healthier habits.
The deliberate self-care that I mentioned above will not happen if I don’t replace bad habits with healthy habits like eating right, exercising, and creating rhythms of connecting with God.
I learned that I need a hobby.
The sabbatical made me realize that I all I do is work. As I took inventory of all my regular activities, I saw that nearly everything I do is related to my work. And so my mind is always on work. I need a hobby that will keep my mind engaged but also give it a “rest” from the burdens of ministry.
I learned that I need to prioritize relationships over responsibilities.
I am a responsible person who is driven by duty and I like it that way. The problem is that people are often viewed as “projects” for which I am responsible. I have to change that attitude and learn to be “in the moment” with people and enjoy building relationships.
I learned that prayer and time in the Word of God are indispensable lifelines.
I spent a lot of time in prayer and in the Word during my sabbatical, and both rejuvenated me like nothing else could. I cannot allow the busy-ness of life to crowd out time for these spiritual disciplines.
These were important lessons that emerged during my sabbatical, but I haven’t truly learned these lessons if I don’t make whatever changes I need to make in order to implement these lessons. That’s what I’m working on now.
In the next post I will share some ideas on how to incorporate sabbatical concepts into everyday life.
Thanks for reading!