Every 10 years of service for our staff, our church grants a sabbatical break. Instead of our usual vacation or continuing education allotments, on the 10th year, our pastors have the opportunity to have a prolonged break for rest, retooling, learning, and focusing on the future. Ten years ago, I came back refreshed and passionate for the leadership role in our church family.
Another ten years have come and gone, and I’m preparing for another sabbatical starting in just two weeks. We’ll spend time with family, get significant rest, and work on research to help us in key projects and transitions for the decade ahead. It’s what Stephen Covey called “sharpening the saw” in his book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Just a few weeks ago, I had to take down an old, dying hackberry tree in my “back 40.” The chainsaw did the big work, but then I needed to split the 14″ diameter logs. I started to work with a brand-new axe but realized very quickly that even though it was new, it was not sharp.
I found my grinder and went to work. Sparks flew. The sound was offensive. But after several minutes, I put my thumb on the freshly sharpened edge. It was like new! And my first swing split the log cleanly. Sometimes, working harder yields diminishing returns. You must stop and intentionally sharpen the blade. (Or, in my case, sharpen my knowledge, body, mind, and soul!)
Ben Condray and Chris Ransbottom will be handling preaching on Sundays, so I know our church will thrive during my absence. Our team is prepared and ready for the gap my absence will create. But we have seen the results too many times now–the “sharpened” pastor returns with new vigor, new ideas, and a new sensitivity to the Spirit. Pray for me as I embark on this journey so that I will have ears to hear what God is saying and to see where He is leading our church family for the rest of the decade!