My family and I have just returned from a summer sabbatical, thanks to the generosity of my church and its leadership. We traveled, spent time with some family, took long walks together, went on bike rides, slept late, stayed up late, went to bed early, read some books, watched some movies, did some chores around the house and disconnected from work and school. It was one of the best summers of our lives. So, what did I learn from my time away?
1. I really like my family
Ok, I really loved them before the sabbatical, but the fact that we still spoke to one another after a road trip to Florida and back was proof positive that love can survive anything. I will not do that again, but I’m grateful for the six days of driving America’s freeways that produced mostly laughs along the way. The sound of our own wheels did not drive us crazy. In fact, we really enjoyed one another’s company, even when mom and dad belted out 80′s tunes from the radio.
2. I really like my church
The hardest part of the sabbatical was being away from New Life, even though I watched online most Sundays. Being with the tribe of New Lifers is really important to our family and Sundays felt a bit hollow without the hugs and prayers of our congregation. I needed the break from teaching and preaching so my mind could rest and recharge, but I missed that holy moment each Sunday when the crowd becomes a worshipping family and singing prayers lift the rafters. I missed coming to the Lord’s Table together.
3. I really like my team
Most of my friends are people that serve with me at the church. I spent some great time with long-time friends from Texas, lingered with my family in Louisiana and hung out with some pastor friends, but I really missed the day-to-day interaction that only happens with the people who are alongside me in the trenches of local church ministry. Today, I re-entered the routine of coffee and conversations with my cadre. It felt right again. It felt like home, again.
This Sunday, I return to the church I love, teaching the people I admire, in a city and state I adore. It took a summer sabbatical to remind me that I’m right where I need to be, belonging to a family and church that likes one another.