As it turns out, I do not need to blog or look at Facebook every day to survive. Work is not my oxygen. I recently took a month off of my daily responsibilities at my church (and most of my side hustle as well). I didn’t write any blogs and I only checked Facebook a few times. It was all super good (not always enjoyable, but always good).
Here’s what I did with my January month-long sabbatical:
I went to counseling. I’m still going, in fact. Some people think you only go to counseling if there’s something wrong with you, and I guess in a sense that’s true — because we all have things wrong with us. But it’s also good to just get a little check-up, a little kick in the pants, an emotional booster shot.
I’m learning about myself. It’s prompted some great conversations with my wife. It’s caused me to evaluate why I act the way I act, why I feel what I feel, and more. If you haven’t gone to counseling lately, you should.
I also sat under some coaching. Huge shout out to April Diaz and the folks at The Youth Cartel. She asked great questions and the organization was a treat to work with. She left me with practical insight and take-aways to implement. Super helpful. Totally recommend them to youth workers.
My wife and I also talked to 2-3 couples that know us well and asked their thoughts on our lives and ministry and marriage and parenting and more. We are so grateful to have dozens, if not hundreds, of people around us who tell us like it is…a real community of believers walking (and sometimes limping) along with us.
I Read a Lot.
I normally read a book or two a month. In January, I read a book or two per week. I re-read some books that have helped me in the past, and asked buddies for recommendations on new titles. Favorites included The Contemplative Pastor, Holy Discontent (not pictured, read it on Kindle), and one of my all-time faves, Radical. I also read some fiction (not pictured).
I also read a Proverb per day.
All that reading led me to some great conclusions about my life and ministry.
I Found Gravel
I know it doesn’t seem super spiritual, but I did a lot of processing on drives. I found some Texas gravel roads and took it easy. I prayed. I thought. It was good stuff. Getting alone is a good thing sometimes. For me it was very helpful. The conversations and the reading and the counseling are all great filters, but when I have some space to just yield to what God is saying and listen, I find the most clarity.
With my time off now in the rearview mirror, what now? It was interesting having people ask me how my time off was going (and now, how it went). I had some objectives, things I was thinking through, etc. But more than anything I was just catching my breath and trying to be open to God’s leading in my life. I walked away with a few conclusions:
- I feel an unshakable call to Kingdom work — to preaching/teaching, writing, and giving for the glory of God and to point people toward Jesus.
- My marriage is super strong and my wife and I wade through tough stuff together because we both love Jesus and we both love each other
- I believe in the local church and it’s purpose in advancing the Kingdom, and I also believe the Church is facing monumental challenges. I believe in a couple hundred years we’ll look back (if we’re still on the planet) and this will be a period of re-Reformation. It’s an exciting, if not difficult, time to be a Christian and a church worker. Bold, sacrificial faith is required. I’m all in.
I know most folks with “real” jobs have a hard time asking their employers for extended time off like I did. But somehow, some way, you need to get alone for periods of time and just focus on where you are with Jesus and ask the tough questions of yourself.
Grab a book, make an appointment with your counselor, take a mentor to lunch, or find a gravel road. Even if you don’t think so, you probably need a break.