Sabbatical Report Hey everyone! My sabbatical is now over and God was so good in my six weeks away. As I write this article, I feel refreshed, renewed and ready to re-enter into the ministry orbit. It's hard to summarize all the work that Jesus did in my heart, but I'll try my best to give you a little glimpse into my sabbatical experience.
Soul Work - Perhaps the most important work that happened on Sabbatical was the work Jesus did in my soul while I was away. I had the opportunity to slow down, spend more time with the Lord, and let Him mold my soul through His word, prayer and silence. Over the previous few years, I had unintentionally sunk into several dangerous spiritual habits and the Lord revealed those to me with stunning clarity. I certainly fell in love with Jesus all over again during my time away and for that I am so grateful.
Brain Work - I was blessed to read twelve books during my time away and I certainly discovered how much I have missed reading! Though I'm always reading through at least two or three books, the reality is that full-time ministry exacts a high cost in regards to schedules (especially if you're the full-time preacher) and people's demands on your time. Sabbatical provided an opportunity to read broadly and deeply and I benefited much from the collective wisdom of many authors and subjects.
My book list is below:
Just Mercy (Bryan Stephenson)
Church Elders (Jeramie Rinne)
Deacons (Matt Smethurst)
Gender: A Discussion Guide
How to Win the West Again (Tim Keller)
12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (Tony Reinke)
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (Mark Batterson)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (William Shirer)
Hitlers Last Days (Bill O'Reilly)
Secular Creed (Rebecca McLaughlin)
The Multi Directional Leader (Trevin Wax)
A Call to Counsel & Care
Marriage & Family Work - There's no doubt the highlight of the Sabbatical for me was spending unfettered time with Danielle and my five girls. As a family, we were able to spend a ton of time together, talking, laughing, working, hiking, eating, swimming, mini-golfing, and a multitude of other activities. Many times during the six weeks, we realized that the Gospel ministry is OUR ministry...together (not just dad's ministry). By God's grace, we will be adjusting our schedules moving forward and making those needed changes which will hopefully turn into new healthy habits. Our greatest discipleship relationships in Jesus are always right at home!
Perspective Work - I spent one week flying solo in Northeast Iowa (which is beautiful by the way) in relative silence, hiking, reading, writing, reflecting, and gaining fresh perspective from the Lord and hearing His voice in the quiet silence. This was probably my most productive week as I simply gave effort to remembering. Remembering my story and my Gospel testimony was amazing while writing down as much as I could. I also sat and simply remembered the church's story and what the Gospel has done at Living Waters, again, writing down as much as I could as I went. God's Word affirms again and again, the value of remembering His work in history, especially your history! I got a good start on this perspective work and I hope to make much more progress in both arenas (personal and church) in the future.
Vision Work - Getting away from the hustle and bustle of regular daily ministry, gave me a great opportunity to seek the Lord for future vision for Living Waters. I believe the Lord spoke in many good ways and I'm excited to share some of these ideas with the Pastors, leaders, staff and congregation at Living Waters in the coming weeks and months. I will say, I'm very excited about the future at Living Waters and where the Lord might take us in this next season. Very good things are ahead!
Sabbatical was awesome. I look forward to my next one already (LOL - in seven years) as I had such a good time away with Jesus and my family. It's not until you step away from the busy and urgent things, that you realize what is truly important in this life. As a Gospel believing Christian, I think I'm understanding Sabbath a little bit better and the amazing rest Jesus promises every Christian, the rest of one's soul in the never ending love of Christ and His never ending power to strengthen those who are weary.
Much love everyone! I look forward to seeing you and talking with you soon.