A Final Sabbatical Thought

Years ago I received a call from a college student who had been in my youth group at my first church. It was great to reconnect with her, since it had been years since we had spoken (I was in a new call in a different state. During the course of the conversation, I got up the nerve to ask her about her experience growing up in the church and if it had prepared her for life beyond high school. She started with the usual answers, but I sensed there was something more she wanted to say. When I pushed, she said, “growing up in the church, we learned Bible and theology; you made sure of that. What I am learning now is how much Jesus loves me and how much I love him.”

The conversation is etched in my heart. Is it possible to have knowledge without love? Of course it is! Is it possible that the focus of my ministry was out of balance? Again, of course it is!

In a few days, I’m stepping away for a planned 3 month sabbatical, the purpose of which is to renew the love in my faith and my family. This sabbatical is not an answer to a crisis, but it is a corrective to a tendency to drift from the things that should be at the center of life. My goals are relatively simple:
  • To strengthen my love for Jesus and my understanding of his love for me.
  • To strengthen my love for my family and their understanding of my love for and commitment to them.
In some ways, it will be easy to be away (fun travel!), and in other ways it will be difficult to be away. Much of my identity is wrapped up in my calling and vocation, so when those things are not at the forefront, it just may create an environment for me to be with the Lord instead of trying to do things for the Lord. It is all part of a healthy approach to life and ministry designed to avoid burnout, keep me connected to Christ, and strengthen to foundational relationships in my life.

I am grateful for the chance to step away for a bit, and I’ll be back soon, with renewed energy, focus, and joy for the road ahead of us.

With much love,

Pastor Daniel