Summer Sabbatical 2016

This Summer I am doing something I haven’t done in 16 years of fairly active ministry (3 years as a college student, 11 years as a bi-vocational “lay minister”, and the last 2.5 as an ordained pastor): taking a Summer off of active ministry duty.

Some people call this situation a “Sabbatical”, meaning a rest from work, or break. But, as I will still be working full-time at the Web agency I own and direct, and I have four small children, I will simply be notching down a level to being a full time entrepreneur / small-business owner with a relatively large family. You know, a normal person. :)

It has been a week and a half, and it has been wonderful.


I have a few goals for this time.

The first set has to do with reinstating some basic disciplines that have slipped over time due to the crazy pace of the last 2.5 years:

  • Rest – regular sleep, and regular down-time
  • Diet – I’m about 30 lbs over my target weight, and maybe 40 lbs over where I could be
  • Exercise – see the last point
  • Devotional time – I, like many pastors, have fallen into the trap of study and reading primarily for the purpose of teaching, and it is time to get back to personal devotion, as a well and fountain from which ministry can flow. Prayer, journaling, non-study-prep Bible reading.
  • Reading – I read a lot, but it is mostly unstructured and undisciplined
  • Writing – I have been saying for about a decade that I want to write more, journaling, blogging, etc. This takes structured and scheduled time.

The second set has to do with pouring energy into family and the business, in order to gain some ground and lay some foundations for the future.

With family, my aim is to create some memories in terms of time spent, travel, camping, experiences, and a few simple lazy summer evenings. Those are in short supply most years.

With business, to dream about the future, plan and organize for the next phase of business, and to “kick the tires” on our business systems to see where things can be shored up. Not having to context switch between business owner and pastor this past week has been remarkable for focus.

We are also hoping to worship with other local churches to be with our friends in town here who fellowship elsewhere. I am excited to visit other churches in Ames and the surrounding region and see what they are up to!

After the sabbatical

I will be ramping back into ministry in July, back to full-steam by August. My goal is to start to lay ministry responsibility back on to the reestablished foundations of the above things, and learn when to say “NO” at a sustainable point.

I am coming out of a 15-year season of ministry as primarily a “worship leader” and entering the next 15-20 years as a teaching pastor and youth ministry point man (in a few years). This seems like a good inflection point to get in position for running hard to that end.

Pray for me

Pray for rest. That is the meaning of the word Sabbatical. I need rest. I am finding it so far. I am grateful. Pray that I come out of this time recharged and ready to hit the ground running in ministry at full strength (look out, world!)

Pray for discipline. I am not a very disciplined person by nature. I have a lot of systems and lot of technology surrounding me to help keep me in line. The system works when I work the system. My flesh grates against this kind of structure, however. It is probably my greatest besetting weakness.

Pray for enjoyment and peace. Nancy said a few days ago. “It’s nice to see your ‘eyes smiling’ again.” I hope that continues.