Lessons Learned from my First Sabbatical


I'm back to work after being off for a month on sabbatical. The time away was refreshing and rejuvenating for me and the family. We had a great trip out west (thanks family and friends who we had the opportunity to see and hang out with, you were what made it such a great trip). I  learned a few valuable lessons from the experience.

Lesson #1 - I don't "rest" well

Throughout the entire time off, I found it hard to not have a schedule. I found it hard to relax when I didn't have an agenda or  "to-do" list. What God taught me through this is that I'm regularly thinking about what's next. While that's not necessarily bad, I often do it at the expense of the moment. As a pastor, that can (and probably has) hurt those I meet with regularly because I haven't been fully present, meaning I haven't been fully engaged. This is something I'm looking to rectify as I've spent part of this week evaluating my schedule (which I'll get to later).

Lesson #2 - We are not big "tourists"

While out in the Pacific Northwest, there were a great many things my wife and I wanted our kids to experience. Since we lived out there for the first 6 years we were married, there were sites and experiences we thought it important to share with our twins. What we discovered, just over half way through our time there, was we don't "tourist" well. We didn't linger long at one site or attraction; just long enough to get a good(ish) group picture (... because if you don't post photographic proof on social media, it didn't happen). While we did see some truly amazing and awe inspiring examples; we were too tied to our own schedule of events (see lesson #1). Because I'm naturally that way, I may have inadvertently forced that on the rest of the family. I do love the fact that we did enough tourist stuff with the kids to have both kids ask, "Can we just stop doing tourist things?" They had their fill.

Lesson #3 - Make the most of the time

I had grand plans for all this family discipleship we were going to get done. I knew we'd be in the car a fair amount, so there'd be plenty of captive audience time. While we did it a couple of times, I could've been WAY more intentional with that time. I did have the opportunity with both kids to talk about where they are with God while I was off, as well as expose them to 3 different churches with 3 different worship styles (... sort of ... it's a long story).

Lesson #4 - Be realistic with expectations 

I had stack of books that I was going to read. Got through one-third of one book (which I lost when I left it on the plane ... with my reading glasses ... a story for another time, still bitter). I did on the plus side choose the right one-third of a book to read. It was fiction and not ministry related.

My devotional time was just me, my Bible, and my journal. God used it to remind me, encourage me, and strengthen my relationship with Him. It was full and sweet, not feeling mechanical like it was starting to before I left.

I fully admit going into sabbatical, I was tired. The time away was really needed. I'm now excited to be back and get back to doing what God has called me to do. I look forward to doing that with renewed energy and passion. Thank you Redeemer Fellowship for making this a priority for your pastors.

Discipleship Requires Relationship over Method

Best Quotes from: From Weakness to Strength by Scott Sauls