Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sabbaticals - I highly recommend them.

A year ago,  I followed God's call to step out of a local church position.

Since then I've had the time for -

  • quiet reflection and prayer.
  • unstructured time to indulge myself in crafts and projects around the house. 
  • extended play time with family and friends.
  • exercise to keep me limber and strong.
  • writing this blog and contributing to a Sports ministry resource and a column for Children's Ministry Magazine.
  • visiting other churches, sometimes to train ministry teams and other times to worship or serve.
  • independent study and networking with other; Kidmin2012 IT Team, Kidmin2012 for example. 
  • stress free quantity time to nurture and reconnect with family and my family by choice.
Up until my arrival at Kidmin 2012, I struggled with exactly what to call my time outside local church Kidmin.  

Sometimes I'd say, I'm on vacation, but then I had to endure the jealous and insensitive comments like  "I'd take a year off too, if I didn't HAVE to work." "What do you do all day? Shop?" I loved the positive and supportive comments. "Pack me in your suitcase. I'd love to join you!" "I'm so proud of you. Let me know how I can support your ministry work." 

Other times, I would allow others to think I'd retired. When in your late 50's, if you don't have "a job" where you go to an office, people automatically assume you're retired. It's easier to indulge the notion than to explain a busy life of consulting. Trust me, eyes glass over when I try - even my own.

But while listening to two Kidmin colleagues share about a recent and an upcoming sabbatical, I realized there was a minimal difference between their sabbatical and my time outside the local church. Their sabbaticals were a scheduled, required and essential part of their church ministry position. Also, while on Sabbatical they got paid and when over, they returned to work in the same church and in the same position.   But those differences were of no importance to me for I was enjoying a full year away on God's tab and I knew I'd return to local church ministry.  I just didn't know when or where yet. 

What was important was I finally had a name for my situation!  It was such a revelation for me and probably a laugh for my colleagues when I piped in with "So, I'm on sabbatical?  Yeah, that's it! I'm on Sabbatical, too!" 

Having experienced this time of sabbatical, I must say, it's one of the most effective and helpful experiences of my ministry life.  Thanks to God, just like my colleagues who experienced a formal church sanctioned sabbatical, I will return to work in a local church sometime sooner or later refreshed, retooled, revived and refocused.  

And to all you out there, if you like me were able to cobble together a sabbatical on God's tab, be thankful. If your church provides a sabbatical, you are blessed.  In either situation, I suspect your tenure and your personal life will be long and fruitful regardless of who provides the funding.  

If you've never had the opportunity and feel the need for extended time away to be refreshed, retool, revived and refocused, I pray God uses your church or finds another way to provide that time for you. I I am convinced it may be the best investment a church can make in their professional staff.  It totally beats the pain, expense and time it takes to replace a worn out, burned out, Kidmin or Pastor.

Sabbaticals - I highly recommend them. 

Go Ahead - Google it!