To be completely transparent, I hesitate a little bit to share about our sabbatical. I recently had someone say, “I sure would like to take two months off work.” My insides did a somersault. I get it. It’s a rare gift to be able to check out of life for two months. I don’t know how to respond except to say that there’s something about being given the responsibility to carry the burdens of your people that burn a lot of pastors out. The average tenure of a pastor is three years. That’s heartbreaking if you think about it. So, we are incredibly grateful for the protection that our church body gives us to provide time to refuel. Sometimes ministry feels like you live on the front line of the enemy’s fire, so to be able to take cover, reload our guns, and come back stronger is a great blessing.
Even though you may not head out on a sabbatical anytime soon, I do think there were some takeaways from our experience that are transferable and worth sharing with everyone…
1. 8 hours of sleep each night can do wonders.
Sometimes it’s the small things in life that make the biggest difference. Sabbatical is not reality, but I choose how I use my 24 hours each day… and so do you. I definitely came back with a renewed commitment to allow one day to end before another begins. I typically believe the lie that I might get ahead for the next day if I just do a few more things. However, I ultimately find a few more things to do the following day. Been there? Sometimes circumstances will prevent it, but I want to make 8 hours of zzz’s my new norm.
2. Relationships are the most beautiful things in life.
We saw some beautiful places during our summer. But the Eiffel Tower actually pales when compared to the joy of spending time with people you love. For one week of our sabbatical, we were able to spend time with my family from Arizona. Time, money, and distance has prevented us from getting together much over the years. For our children, it gave them such a healthy picture of our desires for their future. There’s nothing more that would bring joy to our hearts than for our children to grow up and enjoy spending time with each other’s family and future children. If we behave, hopefully they’ll invite us along, too!
3. God doesn’t take a vacation.
Of course, we’d planned to spend time with the Lord during our sabbatical. The unhurried nature of our schedule allowed us to take our priority time off the clock and enjoy being in the presence of the Lord. That part we had planned. But what we were reminded of consistently during our time away was how much bigger God’s plans are. Week after week, we saw God set up divine appointments. We were given access to people that are usually inaccessible. We had strangers pray over us like they had lived in our shoes.
Sleep well. Love more. And know that God is always at work for your good.