Some of you may know but many of you don’t… I have been on sabbatical from my pastoral duties for the past couple of months.
Many of you have reached in concern for me. I truly appreciate that. Your prayers and presence are felt.
Well, I am glad to announce that I am slowly reentering the pasture (which will include more of these wonderful blog posts!)
What’s a Sabbatical, Anyway?
Just in case you aren’t familiar with the idea of take a sabbatical, let me help you understand…
It’s a leave of absence
In adult world, it’s like taking an extended recess (minus the kick ball). Or think of it as summer vacation.
It’s fun to use Uban Dictionary for definitions from time to time. They’re so… let’s say, colorful. But their definition of “sabbatical” is actually quite tame. They describe it as a prolonged hiatus in the career of an otherwise successful individual taken in order to fulfill some dream.
I like this explanation because it shines light on the purpose of taking time off – to be filled full.
Why a Sabbatical is so Important?
A sabbatical can quickly turn in to a meaningless holiday without achieving some sense of accomplishment, receiving the answer to some deep, internal conundrum or discharging mounds of toxic thinking or external threats. After the time away, one should feel refreshed, enlightened and ready to continue running the race.
When a pastor takes a sabbatical, we spend time in prayer and study. It’s a period of communion with God, family and one’s self.
Sabbaticals are important – especially in ministry leadership. It is wise to do so, even above a regular vacation. This is truly been one of best times.
Why Did I Go on Sabbatical?
When God told me to take a break; I can honestly say I wanted to rebel, fall on the ground and kick/scream like a three-year-old. But after I got over myself; I sought Spiritual advice, talked to my wife and announced the news to Manifestation Team Members. Everyone one was supportive – even if they didn’t fully understand. But the reality is that I didn’t fully understand myself. I was walking in faith.
Now, one the other side of the experience, I have more revelation about MY sabbatical’s purpose. Allow me to share:
Being a shepherd is like riding a roller coaster.
Pastoring is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. There many great rewards, but no other occupation is more holistically demanding. We can go from long nights with a couple in crisis to early mornings immersed in meditation.
My sabbatical is allowing me to get off the roller coaster to enjoy other attractions in the amusement park called life without distractions. While here, I can share a funnel cake with my wife and relish the laughter of my first grader.
Being a minister is like being an ER doctor.
When duty calls, we go. Although I am not slave to my cell phone (yet) I do try to quickly be responsive to the needs of others. As an entrepreneurial minister, my tasks are extensive. I am the pastor, secretary, visionary, janitor, bus driver, cook, counselor, mentor, worship leader, community activist, YouTube personality, brand ambassador, IT guy and Sunday school teacher. This is all necessary to get a healthy ministry up and running.
My sabbatical is allowing me to leave the fast pace of the proverbial operating room to taking flowers to a loved one in hospice. This is an analogy of course… I simply mean I get to shift pace and focus.
Being ecclesiastic is like getting a doctorate degree.
Sometimes we spend so much time studying the Bible we don’t get to enjoy it or apply it. I am constantly reading for sermon prep and leadership development. Sometimes this takes a front seat to personal develop and reading my children a bedtime story.
My sabbatical is allowing me to fall asleep while reading a good book for leisure and see the Minions Movie with my kids. And reading has become like eating cold piece of fruit on a summer day rather than forcing down a salad while on a diet.
Being a pastor is like burning a candle at both ends.
Burnout is a real issue in church work. It is possibly why so many pastors get divorced, have chronic illnesses, commit suicide and are distant from their children. There is only so much a single person can take. So prevention is key.
My sabbatical is allowing me to change a potential wild fire into an Independence Day sparkler. Which would you prefer? I’m sure my toddler, Triniti, would a fireworks display over a consuming blaze.
You may have noticed that every benefit of my sabbatical also profited my family. Connecting with them makes it all worthwhile. My ministry involves my family 100%. Therefore, we all needed some time away to grow closer to each other and to God.
During this time, the Lord has exceed my expectations. I started a new job, we are living in a new house, the kids are starting new schools and we are getting a new car. With so much transition all at once, I need time to concentrate on what matters most – family.
The material benefits pale in comparison to the emotional and spiritual ones. My wife and I are closer than ever, my kids are happier and our time in prayer and with one another has increased exponentially.
Sabbaticals should be purposeful. And I can honestly say this one was. God has given me greater clarity and strategy for managing every aspect of my life – marriage, parenting, business, ministry and person health.
Now it’s time to get back to work. The hiatus ends next month. But I won’t be jumping into the deep end of the pool quite yet. Initially I will wade a little, get used to temperature then take a few strokes. In no time we will be full speed ahead.
Thank you to everyone for all of your support, prayers and gestures of care. This weekend Latrese and I are at the General Assembly for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to learn more about the work of the Kingdom. Pray for us during our time away and be ready for action when we return.
Are you ready to continue the journey with me?
Love (still Pastor) Terrell L