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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"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30 We have to remind ourselves of this truth every day lest we forget:

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
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