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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Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

No one is an island to themselves and I am certainly an example of that. Many people - women and men, young and old, and of many backgrounds - prayed, encouraged, mentored, and loved me along the way. Grateful for my professors at seminary, my many classmates, and the numerous fellow staff and co-laborers I've had the privilege of serving Christ with past and present. And of course, I'm forever inspired by my parents, my children, and my wife, Minhee. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love...and oh, for your patience. Only your family will know and see both the best and worst of you. They've seen my worst...and keep on believing in me.

Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

Preached from John 4. We can talk, preach, sing, philsophize, liturgize, and spit rhymes about Samaria...but we still have to talk through Samaria.

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