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.
2 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.