I’m taking five weeks off from pastoral ministry, and I wonder your reaction? I’m certain there is a spectrum, between zero-interest, meh, huh? huh, and how old is he again? You’re welcome to continue reading wherever you fall on this particular spectrum.
I’m doing it for a number of reasons, personally and professionally. Our personnel committee approved it last year and our elders this year. The elders had one caveat: “call it a mini-sabbatical” and not a “sabbatical”.
They understand two things that I long for you to understand. One, this increases the chances that I will last as a pastor; two, pastoring is a heavy job. I have many successful friends and I ask them about work. Their jobs are more complex than mine. They work for global, publicly traded companies that makes engines in everything, or software for everyone, or manage the finances of some of the most financially successful people in the world. They laugh when I ask about the heaviness of their jobs compared with mine. I don’t want to solve the problems on their desk and they don’t want to solve mine. But each of them has been an elder in a local church and know the weight of the job I have. It is heavy.
If you want to pray for me, pray that the Holy Spirit will help me care without carrying. We have about 200 members here at CPC and I worry about the kids, the parents, the friends, and the co-workers of those 200. That is not my concern and yet in my strength, empathy, therein is an achilles – I get worn out in the concern for the 1000 people I know of in and around this area. It is good that I care as much as I do, it is not sustainable that I carry the weight of 1000 souls with me.
On the professional side – I have been working for a church since 2001 without a break. That isn’t the problem though. The problem is being in charge. For those of you who are the head of your organization, you know what I am talking about. For those of you who are not – it is an entirely different kind of chair, altogether. “It’s an entirely different kind of chair.”
Personally, it has not been easy. Most of you know that both I and my wife have had cancer and while we have been declared cancer-free, it will linger for the rest of our lives through far, tests, anger and sadness. There are other things I want to both set down and deal with – spiritually and emotionally. Things I do not want to carry into pastoral ministry. I had a lot of challenges growing up. If you have heard me preach, you likely have some sense of this.
I won’t have my phone, but I’m confident in our elders should you need anything while I’m away. I won’t be checking email, but I’m confident you kind of hate email anyway. I won’t be on social media, but I’m confident you weren’t waiting on my next tweet.
I believe this is a move of health for me, my family, and for the church I am so honored to serve. See you soon.