What’s Pastor Markus Gonna Do While He’s on Sabbatical?
- What’s a sabbatical?
- What does the Bible say about sabbaticals?
- What’s our policy on sabbaticals?
- Is a pastor’s sabbatical really good for the church?
- How did Session (our board of elders) arrive at the decision to approve a sabbatical?
- What’s church gonna be like while Markus is on sabbatical?
There’s one more big question you might be asking: “What’s Markus going to do while on sabbatical?”
The answer to that question can be boiled down to three R’s: Rest, Reflection, and Robin.
As much as I love being a pastor and feel called to be a pastor, the relentless routine of pastoral ministry can be quite draining. When I started as the pastor of Northmintser, I was operating at 100% commitment, 100% energy, and 100% creativity. I’m still operating at 100% commitment, but if I’m going to be honest with you, I’d have to say my energy and creativity are at about 40% these days.
Taking a break from the routine of weekly sermons, meetings, e-mails, meetings, visits, meeting, etc., etc., will do wonders for refreshing my energy and my creativity. I so look forward to coming back with lots of ideas and lots of vitality.
One of the things I’ll be doing a lot of is spending time in solitude and silence. During these times of reflection, I might be praying, reading scripture, reading a book, walking or exercising, or even just sitting silently and listening for God’s voice. I anticipate these times of reflection to bring me greater clarity—not only greater clarity in how God has shaped me for my role as pastor of Northminster and greater clarity of Northminster’s mission, but also greater clarity simply as a child of God apart from my roles and responsibilities.
In this category of reflection, let me also mention the two Doctor of Ministry-level classes I’ll be auditing at Fuller Seminary. The first class is called Mission of God in Local Contexts. The topic of this class is actually fairly similar to what I studied in my Doctor of Ministry program. This will be a good refresher course for me and will, I trust, remind me of some things we need to focus on in our church that maybe we’ve lost sight of.
The second class is called Preaching and Teaching the Old Testament. I’m auditing this class for two reasons: 1) I want to keep improving when it comes to my preaching, and 2) the class is being taught by John Goldingay, my favorite Old Testament professor back when I was still working on my master’s degree!
As I prepare for and participate in these classes, I’m trusting that God will open my eyes to what he wants me to see during this time of sabbatical reflection.
My relationship with my wife, Robin, is the single most important relationship in my life. I’ll be honest with you. I love Robin a heck of a lot more than I love any of you! But that doesn’t mean marriage is a breeze even for pastors.
My goal in this sabbatical is to focus on strengthening my relationship with Robin so that by the time I return to you all in July, our marriage will be stronger than it’s ever been and we will be more in love with each other than we’ve ever been.
Not a Vacation
I just want to reiterate that this sabbatical is not going to be a vacation. As I said in an earlier post, this sabbatical is not a time for me to vacate. A sabbatical is a time in which the congregation and pastor set aside the pastor’s normal responsibilities for the purpose of rest and spiritual refreshment, leading to renewed energy and creativity for both the pastor and the congregation.
When I return from my sabbatical I will be different. And you will be different, too. I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but I know it will be good. I’m so looking forward to this next season of life with all of you!