But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
This is one of my favorite Scriptures describing the leadership rhythms of Jesus. In the middle of a busy and hectic season of healing the sick, preaching to the multitudes and mentoring his core leaders, Jesus would simply disappear. His followers would frantically search for him, only to find him alone, praying, and restoring his own soul. He was putting on his own oxygen mask before attempting to help others.
It’s important we pay careful attention to the lifestyle Jesus modeled, and that is why sabbaticals are a part of our ethos here at New Life. Every full-time employee receives this gift every seven years and we encourage them to take advantage. We believe these times are critical for the health of our team and for our congregation.
This Summer, it’s my turn for a much needed sabbatical. I will be gone for several weeks, but the congregation will be led during my time away by the strong team God has given us. I truly believe this will be the most fruitful Summer in our church’s history.
The elders and I have been planning for this extended time away for months now, with three primary goals.
I’m grateful that I am not wrestling with burnout as I enter this sabbatical. In fact, I am more energized and encouraged than ever. My family and I have strived to follow the principles of rest, solitude, and Sabbath for many years now. In fact, I talk about these life-giving principles in my new book, Addicted to Busy, which releases when I return later this Summer. However, I’m sure I have underestimated the physical, emotional and mental toll these past seven years have taken on my family. I know I need to rest, and so I will.
A lot has happened in the past seven years, both in the church and within my family. I do not want to miss anything God is showing me, so I need to pause, reflect, and journal all my thoughts from these amazing and challenging years. I want to have unhurried conversations with Pam, my wife of almost 25 years, and with my two teenagers, who are racing toward adulthood. I will also spend some much needed time with our church Overseers, mentors and close friends to get their wise perspectives.
The last goal is to simply recharge my batteries for the days, years and decades ahead. New Life is growing and healthy. Our team is amazing and the best days for our congregation are still in front of us. I want to be re-energized to serve alongside all of you with a renewed spiritual vitality. I want to sharpen my spiritual disciplines, lose some middle-aged weight, eat better and exercise regularly so I can finish this race as strong as I started.
Thank you for giving me this gift of a sabbatical and I promise to steward this time well. You are a great tribe of people and we love you very much. Have a blessed Summer and may God be present in your rest, too.