I’ve heard that ideally – you want to minister out of the overflow of your cup that is being constantly filled by Jesus. That sounds great. It sounds idyllic. I’m curious how many pastors actually feel that they live in that space. At the moment, I can at least say, I’m not one of them.
For the past four weeks I’ve been preaching a message series entitled “Life on the Vine” out of John 15 on the importance of living a life deeply engrafted in Jesus. While others listened in, I wrote the messages for myself, knowing that I’m not sure I’m as plugged into Jesus as much as I need to be in order to be the kind of Pastor/Leader I want to be (and the Living Stones Church deserves). I have some pruning I need God to attend to. I have some life habits that could use a “restart”. And my past experience informs me that the only way that happens is when I commit an extended period of time to unplug from the weekly urgency and necessity of daily ministry.
In that posture I hear God better. He is typically very gracious and speaks to me in ways that reveals my heart condition (thus prodding me to make necessary adjustments, recalibrations, and plain ol’ repentances) as well as vision and direction for the future (specifically for Living Stones Church).
I’m in need of one of those times. I’ve taken a few of those “assessments” you can take on “clergy burnout” etc. And it revealed that if I plan on going the long-haul in ministry (which I do…like at least another 25 years [Lord willing] [side note: statistically - 90% of individuals who enter ministry will not retire from ministry]) I would need to have some time for a “spiritual tune-up” if you will. So – that is what I’m going to do.
The elders of the Living Stones Church have been very kind, generous, and gracious to me. They have encouraged me to take a sabbatical for a while (which usually resulted in me brushing off their suggestion because of…well…I’m going to guess fear and pride). But after conversations with my wife, and her very insistent tone, I’ve decided to take them up on it and enter into a sabbatical season.
As soon as I return from a Junior High Summer Camp with our youth group (August 2nd), I will enter into a Sabbatical until September 9th. I plan on enjoying some family time, hanging out with some Benedictine monks, and reconnecting in the vine that is Jesus. I plan on disengaging from a lot, including all social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.).
The church is in good hands and is going to grow and thrive in my absence (but not too much because I still would like a job when I get back). I’m not worried about the church at all. We have the best staff of any church (I’m a little partial). Truth be told…they were doing all the work anyhow! :-)
We have a pretty ambitious plan ahead of us (which is pretty much taking over the world starting on the South Side of South Bend). And I need to make sure I’m prepared in heart, spirit, and mind to be the kind of leader who can lead such an adventure.
Prayers for me during this time would be most appreciated. Lord willing, I’ll see you September 9th!