Eugene Cho

beginning of sabbatical

After officiating a wedding on Friday evening, I officially began my sabbatical on Saturday.

While I missed being at church on Sunday – preaching, saying hello to people, praying for others, eating donuts, serving communion, etc. – it also felt really good to sleep in.  Now I know how you pagans feel when football season starts!

My family and I had a quiet family worship gathering late morning but shortly thereafter, I went to visit CW at the hospital because he was rushed to the hospital the night before because he fainted.  As some of you know, CW is a member of our church who was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his brain about six months ago.  Within the last three weeks, his weight has dwindled from 135 to 121 pounds.  That’s not good for a person who is 6 feet tall.  Sigh.

It was a good conversation filled with doubt, hope, and some tears.  Please continue to keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Technically, I was on sabbatical, but there wasn’t a second thought about going to visit CW.  As a pastor, is one ever really disconnected to the people you care for?  Is it ever “not personal?”  As much as I occasionally covet the state of being impartial my heart, mind, and soul will never be fully “dis-connected.”  For a long time, I’d always feel guilty that my boundaries weren’t well…really defined.  I’ve been in ministry now for 17 years and it’s still a little blurry sometimes. But it’s ok. It’s the nature of the calling. This isn’t my attempt to overdramatize the calling of a pastor but I just wanted to share these thoughts as I head off for my 3 month sabbatical.

1.  If you’re a pastor: God bless you.  Don’t feel guilty that your boundaries are at times nebulous.  Why?  Because there’s no other job or vocation like the “job” of a pastor.  We are not hired hands.  We are shepherds and as such, the dream of a 9 to 5 job is simply not realistic.  Be healthy.  Be well.  Guard your heart, family and time, but make sure you understand that we are not “hired hands.”  But do take time to rest and rejuvenate.  One of the worst decisions I’ve made was when the church offered me a 3 month sabbatical three years ago and I responded by saying that I would only take two.  Dumb and dumber.

If you’re a member of a church community: Please take a few moments to show and share your appreciation for your pastors and leaders.  There is nothing comparable – in my mind – to the role of a pastor.  Pray for them.  Take them out for a meal.  Chip in and get them some certificates to a quiet place for them to enjoy coffee and a book.  Simply, let them know that they’re not “hired hands” simply doing the work of the church but rather, women and men called by God to serve the Kingdom through their leadership as pastors.  Pastors are human just like you and me.  They need to be encouraged.

Questers:  I’ll be “gone” for three months but you will not be far from my heart and mind.  I continue to pray for you, hope for you, and root for your dreams.  I care for you immensely and I thank you for the privilege of serving you as one of your pastors.

Filed under: family, religion

5 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    Good thoughts, Eugene. I’m on something of a sabbatical myself, but it didn’t stop me from hopping on a plan to participate in a memorial service in SF a few weeks back. I may not be “on” right now, but I’m still a pastor to these wonderful people.

  2. Joonmo says:

    Be back safe and healthy.

  3. JB says:

    Ella came alongside me as I read this and said “Pastor Mygene!! That’s Pastor Mygene up on the sail cast!!”

    (Don’t know what a “sail cast” is, in her mind or otherwise, but thought you’d appreciate that she recognized you and was pretty excited about it!)

    Have a great time with your precious family! We’ll miss you but I’ve really enjoyed hearing Pastors Ray and Leah the past two weeks, and I know they will take good care of us! And we’ll try to not break the place or anything while you are gone. No wild parties in the church basement, etc.

    Have fun.

    Joani and everybody at our house

  4. My Mum went on sabbatical (she’s a vicar here in York, UK) and it seems to have done her a lot of good. Apart from anything else, the act of handing over tasks to other church members has been good because its given other people a chance to use their giftings, and Mum a chance to, well, actually take care of her self. Your right, there really isn’t another job like it: no other job combines the temptation and expectation to wreck one’s health in going the extra mile. Enjoy the break!

  5. Jan Owen says:

    Eugene, i am currently in my last month of my first sabbatical. It has been good for me. Not a fix all, but a much needed deep breath – a sigh of relief if you will. I pray that you will hear God’s voice thunder in your heart as you have a more spacious approach to life for a little while. I pray that this sabbatical gives you room to hear from God more clearly, especially as you consider your life and your future. Some things became very clear to me while I have been away.

    So take care of yourself and your family and breathe deeply!

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One Day’s Wages

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#TamirRice Incredible news: @onedayswages is projecting to have our most impactful year as we grant out $1.3 million dollars! Thank you so much for your prayers and support...please read on to learn how you can join in our work.

As you gather with family, friends, and loved ones for Thanksgiving and the holidays, I wanted to share an opportunity. Often times, when I speak to people about the privilege of generosity, I remind them, "You don't have to but you get to." It's so true.

My wife and I (and our three kids) started ODW in 2009. We felt the Holy Spirit convicting us to give up our year's salary. It wasn't an easy thing to say "Yes" or "Amen" to but we made the decision to obey. As a result, it took us about three years to save, simplify, and sell off things we didn't need.

It's been an incredible journey as we've learned so much about the heart of God and God's love for the hurting and vulnerable around the world - particularly those living in extreme poverty. ODW is a small, scrappy, grassroots organization (with just 3 full-time employees) but since our launch, we've raised nearly $6 million dollars to help those living in extreme poverty: clean water and sanitation, education, maternal health, human trafficking, refugee crisis, hunger, and the list goes on and on.

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@onedayswages Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
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