Well, I’m sitting at the Indy airport and waiting for our first flight out of the US through New York. As usual the plane is running behind, but I know that the flight will be easy and relatively painless. As we think about this incredible opportunity that you and God have afforded us we have talked a lot as a family about what we will enjoy most:
– The beautiful Greek Islands
– The gorgeous cathedrals of Rome
– Walking into buildings that have stood (or kinda stood) for thousands and thousands of years
– Relaxing as a family, and just enjoying each others company
– Being able to read books just for fun and not for school or a sermon
All of these we have truly looked forward to, but we did recently ask the question, “What will you like least about our sabbatical”. After a couple of quiet moments, we all agreed what we’d miss most are the people in our lives.
– Friends who we’ve spent hours hanging out with
– People who we’ve loved and invested in
– People who love and have invested in us
– Celebrating each week with Friendship Church
– Hearing all about what is going on in your lives
I’ve heard it said, usually by a very grumpy pastor, that ministry would be great if it weren’t for all the people. To be honest, I think that statement is just STUPID!! Was that honest enough? Yes, ministry to people can sometimes be tough, draining, and downright frustrating some times…BUT the reward is you get to see people make life altering decisions to follow Christ, help a family get back together, assist people in getting their broken lives put back together. No, ministry is great BECAUSE of the people!
We love you all, and keep checking back as we’ll try to keep this as updated as possible.
I think one of the coolest things about Friendship Church is that we are constantly trying to take the long-term view of things. Always asking the question, “How will this affect us 5, 10, 15 years from now?” This approach has saved us from making a lot of short-sited decisions that could have had significant, long-term repercussions. It has also enabled us to make hard decisions with short-term pain for long-term health.
This is exactly what we did when evaluating if it was a good thing and good time for my family and I to take a sabbatical. We are certainly not “burned out”, frustrated, or tired of leading Friendship. In fact, this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s an absolute joy to be able to watch decisions we made 3-5 years ago become reality and see all these people come to know Christ and so many of you take huge steps in your spiritual growth. In all transparency, this is the last time I would choose to go on sabbatical. I love leading the charge, being the visionary, teaching the Word, and watching lives change…but that is the short-term view of things.
The long-term view says, bigger things are yet to come, greater growth is just around the corner, and what we are experiencing now is just a sliver of the blessing God has for us. If I continue to lead the charge through this time, my batteries may not have enough left to lead an even bigger charge later, and that’s not acceptable. If our vision as a church is to “glorify God as an effective and influential church” then it’s leaders must make sure that they are doing the same with their lives. If staying and enjoying this Summer with my amazing church means that I won’t be as effective as possible when I’m needed most, then I’m being selfish.
I heard John Maxwell once give an incredible illustration, it went something like this. Nature gives us one of the best examples of shared leadership and the importance of down-time. When geese fly across country going South or back North they fly in a “V” formation, as I’m sure you’ve seen. This formation gives the flock incredible aerodynamics and allows them as a group to fly infinitely farther than they could individually. The formation allows for each goose to receive a certain amount of lift from the flapping of the wings of the goose directly in front of them. The lead goose takes the brunt of the wind for the group and his wings provide lift for the entire group, while the rest of the geese “honk” their encouragement to him to keep up the pace. When the goose in the lead becomes tired, another leader rotates to the front. This enables the entire group to continue moving forward while at the same time allowing the lead goose gets the much needed rest for the next length of the journey.
That is why my family and I are going on sabbatical. I want to be ready for the next phase of the journey of Friendship Church. I believe with all my heart that greater things are on their way, that God has more in store for us than any of us can even begin to think or imagine, and I want to be ready! In the short-term it will be painful to be away from you this Summer, but the long-term rewards will far outweigh short-term pain.
“No discipline (training) seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of peace and righteousness for those who are trained by it.” Heb 12:11
Starting on Sunday, May 20th I will have the incredible opportunity to take a sabbatical. My sabbatical will go throughout the Summer of 2012 with a highlight of being able to walk the streets that the Apostle Paul walked, taught, lived, and died. So, what is the point of a sabbatical?
Rest: A major part of our sabbatical is for rest. The ability to not have to preach every single week, be ready to counsel at a moments notice, or be actively engaged in decision making. If you run an engine at maximum rpm (rotations per minute) for too long you can burn up the engine. The same is true for human beings, especially those who carry the burden of leadership. If you truly love the people you lead you carry their burdens with you, and after a certain period of time if you don’t take an extended time of rest, it begins to take a toll on your continued abitlity to lead effectively. I love Friendship Church way to much to get to the point where my leadership becomes less or even completely ineffective. I have no desire to “burn out”, I want my fire to continue to burn bright over my entire life!
Renew: The second component of our sabbatical is renewal. All throughout our sabbatical I will be reading, writing, and studying. I want my passion for Christ, my joy for ministry, and my love for Friendship to be renewed and stoked to it’s full potential! Although I won’t be physically with you I will be daily praying and asking for God’s incredible blessings to continue to flow, and when I return, with completely full tanks, we’ll be ready to take the future that God has for us!
Reconnect: The final piece of our sabbatical is to reconnect with each other. Just like any family as we grow up we tend to move towards our own loves and joys, which can sometimes cause us to not spend as much time together. Unlike other families the pressure of ministry exaggerates those tensions and makes it more difficult to reconnect. So, we decided that it was essential that none of this sabbatical was done alone, we will do it as a family. Our girls are entering transitional times in their lives and this Summer is perfect timing for us to strengthen our bond and our relationships.
I am so thankful to Friendship Church for allowing me and my family to enjoy such an incredible blessing. This is a gift that I wish everyone could enjoy at some point in their lives, and I am so blessed to be able to experience it!