"The Rubber band" - 2012/7/31 - published
You take the rubber band and you start to pull. An immediate sense of anticipation grips you. Anticipation turns to fear…fear that at any moment the rubber band will break, and you will be left with a stinger on your hand. This is the best analogy I can come up with to describe the process I just experienced with a two-month sabbatical. My church graciously blessed me and my family with a sabbatical in honor of ten years of service. I am grateful beyond words for such a blessing. Many people have been asking me, "So, how was the sabbatical?" So, I will be blogging all week on my experience and what I learned from this unique experience.
I love working. I love completing tasks. I love feeling needed. So, the prospect of taking time away from what I love, from people I love to work with, was nerve-racking. It truly felt like stretching a rubber band. I wondered if being away from the office, social media and Sundays at my home church would eventually cause me to snap. During my last week of the sabbatical, I turned to my wife and told her the rubber band had been stretched about as far as it could go. I was ready to return. Thankfully, I endured to the end, and now I find myself today sitting back in my office doing what I love. And here are a few of my takeaways...
1. I needed to do less. I was far too ambitious. I set out to accomplish way too much. I suppose it's the curse of people who are achievers by nature. We tend to look at time away as time to accomplish. The truth is, I needed to do less. I needed to remember that my output is not my identity. So, I did not do all I set out to do, but I did find a few blessings that I count for so much more.
2. I needed to get away. I am very optimistic and often think I'm better off than I am. 2012 began as one of the most challenging seasons of our lives with the health issues of our son, Cooper. The pace of life never slowed down from there. It seemed we kept facing one emotional hit after another throughout the spring. I was personally in a quiet battle with my own fears, doubts and insecurities. I just didn't know how much I needed to slow down. I am glad I was forced to get away from the norm and focus on my family, my walk with God and to just recharge.
3. I needed perspective. One of the dangers of ministry is the subtle deception that God needs you. I was reminded that He does not. In fact, Highpoint Church carried on rather well in my absence! It was good for me to get proper perspective on ministry and my relationship with God. I was reminded that my relationship with God is not wrapped up in my ministry career. I am a child of God before I am a pastor. It is a refreshing reminder that God doesn't need me, but He wants me.
4. I needed to enjoy my family. In our home with four boys, life moves pretty fast. Sometimes we get caught simply getting through the day instead of truly enjoying the relationships that make home...home. I spent lots of time playing, talking, wrestling, swimming, building stuff, destroying stuff, watching kid shows and traveling with kids. Amanda and I enjoyed extended conversations, a few nice dates and some needed home organizing and planning. The extended time at home gave me a special privilege to connect with my youngest son, Ford. He was thrown into the circus of our lives a year ago and I just haven't had the opportunity to really get to know him. I usually manage the other three while Amanda would take care of him. However, this summer he and I connected. We got good time together playing and rocking him to sleep and feeding him at meals. He's officially moved over to the male side of our house...except when he wakes up crying!
5. I needed to get back to work. POP! The rubber band can only go so far. I needed to get back to work. I needed to receive this kind of recharging and refreshing then employ myself for God's glory. I do believe we were all made to work. God made us to make an eternal difference in this world. I love working. I hope that I will practice a healthy balance of hard work and appropriate down time. I need the humility of knowing that God is in control, not me. Likewise, I need the conviction that God wishes to use me therefore I better get to work!
I know a sabbatical is not possible or event practical for everyone. However, perhaps these takeaways can encourage you in your own life and help you make the most of the time God gives you.
It's good to be back. Thanks for reading.
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