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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 20 hours ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 21 hours ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 3 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 3 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 3 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago