“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:3)
I posted an entry not long ago entitled, “The ‘S’ Word” in which I wrote about the meaning of a “Sabbatical leave”. I am scheduled to take two months sabbatical leave in 2009 at the strong recommendation of my District Superintendent (like a Bishop in many denominations). There are a number of reasons for that, many of which are probably too personal to go into (even for me!). One month will be for total rest and will be from April 13 to May 10. The other will be for personal enrichment and will be sometime later this year. “Sabbatical leaves,” that is, time off for rest, refreshment, and renewal, are common among the more theologically liberal denominations and churches. The more theologically conservative groups have been slow to embrace them. We come from more of a tradition which has tended to extol the virtues of someone who “burns out for Jesus”. Even the more Bible-based evangelical churches are coming to see that there’s little that’s commendable about “burning out for Jesus”. Jesus Himself deliberately took time for rest and renewal to be alone with His Heavenly Father.
A Nazarene pastor friend has encouraged me for several years to take a sabbatical and I’ve been very resistant to it. In 22 years, the longest I’ve ever been away from the church at one time was 12 days in 2007 at the time of Amy’s graduation from college. She was graduating from 2 schools (Evangel University and Cox College of Health Science) as she was in a joint nursing training program so I needed to attend the graduations which were one week apart. Mary Ann and I took a “big” vacation in 2002 which was a trip to Alaska, but even that was only 8 days. You may chuckle, but typically I only like to be away about 5 or 6 days at a time. I think I was away for 5 days in a row on our trip to Pennsylvania last summer. SO, for me to be gone for a MONTH is huge. On this month of total rest I will be in southwest Missouri. Mary Ann will be with me for the first week, but due to her work schedule can’t stay any longer than that. One thing that will be interesting is that I’ll be staying for several days in late April at a non-denominational retreat facility which is located on a lake about 60 miles north of Springfield, Missouri. It’s FREE for clergy. I will bring in my own food, but pretty much be left alone with God for several days. There are other things planned for the trip which, again, are probably too personal even for me to share.
This has all been a struggle for me. My late father was an intense perfectionist and a work-a-holic. I remember that years ago when I was on staff at a large church many of my coworkers would have been considered work-a-holics. I was faithful to do my job, but I wasn’t one to go crazy over it. As amazing as it is, that’s something that’s changed in me over the years...as time has gone by, I’ve become more and more of a perfectionist, and more and more of a work-a-holic. I’ve become more and more of a person who has to have my finger into everything. I’ve done my best to be a multi-tasker. Scientific studies have concluded that women (who DO have “different brains”) are much more wired to be multi-taskers, and that men who try to multi-task are much more likely to fail at that. Yes, I’ve reached the point where (in many respects) I need to stop, reflect, get in touch with God, and be open to change.
I started writing the blog over three years ago. It’s NOT a typical minister’s blog, and I’ve taken some criticism for that. Some believe my entries should always be very inspirational, very Biblical, and very Christ-centered. Some have been disappointed that I’ve written about things such as how to plant a good lawn, or when analog T.V. ceases, or what the history of carbonated beverages is. But that’s who I am! Most ministers are people of various talents and interests. Most criticism came from those who didn’t like when I complained about getting bad service from an airline or an auto shop. Maybe that complaint has some validity; I’m not sure. A complaint which I suppose WOULD have validity is that while some of my posts are outstanding and certainly good enough to be published as newspaper columns, some are pretty poor and read like a high school kid’s assignment that he didn’t want to do. One of the rules of public blogs is that you’re not supposed to write stuff just for the sake of doing it; you’re supposed to have something important to say. I’ve been of the frame of mind that I wanted to post at least three times a week so if people checked the blog out, there’d always be a recent posting. NOW, I’m not planning to write anything on the blog until at least May 12- maybe a little longer. I have worked very hard to build up a readership of this blog. No, I don’t have THOUSANDS, but I DO have “scores” (that’s groups of 20) and even having scores of people who regularly read your blog (I probably have close to 100 regular readers) is pretty cool! My pride is worried that if I don’t post anything until May 12 or later, that when I come back, I’ll maybe have 4 readers. SO, I hope you’ll pray for me while I’m on sabbatical leave...and I hope you’ll remember, that (like Arnold!) “I’ll be back!”
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