My Resting Place(s)
A sabbatical is taking a period of time–anywhere from a couple of months to a year–away from your normal routine. It’s a time to immerse yourself in a different environment, try new things, reassess your priorities, and look at your life from a different perspective.
A year ago, for the first time in 26 years of leadership, I took a three month sabbatical.
During that time I read nine books, spent the first six weeks studying 8–10 hours a day finishing three courses on a MA program in management and leadership. I also spent a great deal of time praying and reflecting on my life mission at this stage in my life (54) and on the future of our church and my role in it. I attended two family reunions, traveled half way across the country and back, in addition to looking after my wife for the first five weeks due to a broken foot which happened the first day of my sabbatical.
That may sound tiring, a lot of work and activity, which it was. But when I returned to the office at the end of the summer I was somewhat surprised at the renewed focus, outlook, energy and enthusiasm I was feeling. The greatest surprise was my lack of awareness regarding how tired and worn out I was when I started, compared to how I was feeling on return.
As I have contemplated this after my return I wondered how I can find moments of time and spaces to have a mini sabbatical’s of rest and reflection in my day to day routine. Doing so would build a kind of sabbatical maintenance program into my life. This is not to diminish the need for extended times to do the same, but acknowledging the need to find space and build moments, which one author describes as “margin”, into our lives to maintain our mental, physical, emotional health and vitality.
Here are a couple of ideas I have began to practice. Since that time (just over a year as of this writing) I’ve used my car as a sabbatical space. While I am in the car alone I no longer turn on the radio so I can use that time to reflect, meditate, pray or process things in the silence. I begin to take time to go to the gym to exercise, and although physically demanding is also invigorating and mentally refreshing. I started to get up in the morning before anyone else, or get to the office before other staff arrive. I take the last 30-45 minutes before going to bed to read and reflect on the day. During lunch or coffee breaks find some time to be alone to think or even take a nap.
These are some of the moments and spaces I have been attempting to build into my life as a sabbatical maintenance program, while I look forward to being in a position to again take an extended period of time. One of my good friends in my last church once told me, “Paul, you’d better take care of yourself because no one else is going to.”
So take care of yourself; your leadership and influence is needed for the long haul. To have an enduring ministry you need to pace yourself by finding or creating these intentional spaces where can build enough margin into your routine to find rest.
Mark 6:31: Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
This week’s article is submitted by Paul Bailey, Certified Ministry Advantage Coach, Canada. For more on this and other helpful subjects, go to www.ministryadvantage.org.
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