Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I'm on sabbatical! My church has a policy of granting their pastors a sabbatical after seven years of service (I've been at UPC for eight). What a great church!

The word "sabbatical" means "any extended period of leave from one's customary work, esp. for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc." You can see the word "sabbath" in there, too. So a sabbatical is an extended Sabbath rest. It means to take a break, to stop. Between now and the end of August, I'll be "stopping" for five weeks.

I'm splitting up the five weeks of my summer sabbatical this way:
  • July 4-18 - two weeks at the beach with family and friends... reading, resting, reflecting, rejoicing
  • July 19-31 - two weeks of focused reading and study of several topics: the Lord's Supper, discipleship, and my pastoral priorities
  • August 19-24 - I go to Seattle, WA, for Dan Allender's "Story Workshop"

I have a lot of books to read. Here's a sample:

  • Vintage Church - Mark Driscoll
  • Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands - Paul Tripp
  • Who Killed Change? - Ken Blanchard
  • Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing - Geoff Surratt
  • Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Does More by Doing Less - Dave Browning
  • What Jesus Demands from the World - John Piper
  • Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion - Wayne Cordeiro

Overall, what I hope to gain from my sabbatical is, in a word, FOCUS. There are so many things a pastor feels pressure to do. They are all good things. But hey, I'm 55 years old. I want to finish well. I want to do the things that only I can do, and I want to do them well.

One of the things I want to do well is disciple believers. I want to do what Paul did: "proclaim [Christ], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28). That's what Jesus commissioned us to do.

Yet day to day, it's hard to know how to really pull that off. How can I help UPC be a place where people grow to maturity? What things do I need to say no to? What must be my priorities? Where should I be investing my time? These are questions I'm asking the Lord. Will you pray for me, that my sabbatical will be a refreshing time to connect with God and hear from him about what's on his heart?

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