Hayward Wesleyan Church has graciously offered its pastors an 8-week sabbatical after 7 years worth of full-time ministry. Pastor Mark and Loretta have taken theirs recently and Pastor Heath is currently on his sabbatical at the time of this post. I will be taking mine starting at the end of January 2013 until the end of March 2013.
I have four things I want to focus on during this sabbatical from full-time ministry:
No doubt that ministry takes a toll on one’s marriage. It’s important to periodically take inventory of how things are going in your marriage, and I plan to do just that with Amanda. We are taking a whole week (that’s 7 days) on vacation together without our children. We did this before a couple of years ago and it was an amazing time together. We need that time again and are really looking forward to it again come this next February.
One of the things my wife wishes is that we could go to church together as a family. You know, get ready at the house together, leave the house together, arrive and spend time and serve at church together, and go home together. As a pastor, I work on Sundays. I have to be there early and I’ve often got many different things to do. All to say, that one of the things we are looking forward to doing together on Sundays is going to church together (we won’t be attending Hayward Wesleyan, but other area churches that I would love to visit!).
Another new thing for our family is weekend fun. Because I will not be working on the weekends (or during the week), we have the time to do fun weekend things together. We’ll have 8 weekends to do some fun adventures together and we plan on using every single one of them!
I’ve been in full-time ministry for over 9 years now… all of them @ Hayward Wesleyan. Before I arrived the church had never had a “Children and Family Pastor” before, so I created and have filled out the position. Over the years the responsibility has increased, the numbers of students has increased, the recruitment and sustaining of volunteers has increased, and the intensity has increased. All the while, I have not had the best personal disciplines in my life. I sometimes stay up too late. Don’t eat well (not too much, but too little). Don’t exercise regularly. Drink too much coffee. I could go on.
I need to develop what I’m calling a rule of life for myself. I’m gonna need the 8 weeks to concentrate on setting patterns and habits for myself. I’m not really looking forward to this part, but I know it’s necessary.
My wife and I started talking about this several months ago as we thought about sabbatical and this came up. I haven’t been waiting for this two months for everything. For the last 2 months, we have been waking up at 6:00am (or around that time) together to drink coffee, eat oatmeal, and talk together before the kids wake up and our day gets going. It’s been a good discipline to have because waking up at 6am forces me to go to bed earlier the night before!
I used to think that once you had your job figured out, you just maintained it and then coasted through the years (that was a long time ago that I thought that!). Then I thought (about 3 years ago actually), that I had done all I could at Hayward Wesleyan and that I should step aside and let someone else take it where I didn’t think I could. My boss didn’t see things that way and said that he was sure that I was still the person to do it. And he was sort of right. While I am still the person doing it, I’ve changed radically in the last three years. I thought I had my job figured out, but then I realized I did not and needed to keep learning and growing.
One of the things I’m really excited to study while I am on sabbatical is the relevant literature and thinking behind “Family Ministry” as well as a theology of family in Scripture. I’m hoping to develop a sort of exhaustive reading list. I don’t plan on reading ALL of them during my sabbatical, but I would like to tackle a number of them.