The value of a sabbatical

low battery chargeThe church board of elders granted me a 6 months sabbatical and I felt grateful and relieved. Grateful because they knew I needed it even though the timing was not perfect. There never is a perfect time in church life for sabbatical. Wait for the perfect time and it will never come. Relieved because I am like a mobile with only one bar left in its battery. So beginning 1 January 2011 and ending in 30 June I will come apart from church work and routines and seek the Lord for healing, focus and restoration.

Healing because along the way of service there have been scrapes, ambiguity, guilt, bad decisions, hurts that needs to be surfaced by silence, meditation and the illumination of the Spirit of God. Journaling, silence, reflection and prayer have a way of opening me up to experience healing grace, peace and reconciliation. Having a ten day silent retreat under direction, at Seven Fountains retreat center in Chiangmai, would be a good kick-off to this process.

Ministry gradually degenerate into fragments with its mobs of demands, distractions and drainers. The sabbatical will give me time to reflect on the past to gain sightings of how God has been at work in my life, and where the finger of God is pointing. Invitations will then turn into convictions and specific callings, and if not, at least faith to take the next step in the midst of uncertainty.

Emotionally and mentally and physically I need fresh input and restoration. I do get frayed and enter a mode where I’m not fully living and tasting the whole range of life and relationships. My senses get blunted as I hurry, rush and hurry. The sabbatical will slow me down and heighten my senses and help me to be fully present to God, to life, to people, to loved ones, to the hurts of the stranger.

Read this NY Times article on “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work

Even corporate people are appreciating the need for time off. As I started planning for the sabbatical and did some research online I came across this interesting video of Stefan Sagmeister sharing how time-off made him productive and creative for his design company.

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  • In the secular, people will say you are lucky, you are going for such a long vacation! The video is very interesting. I recall that last year, Pastor John Piper also took a year of sabbatical to reflect in case he let pride got into his head. That was what he said, and I think that’s admirable. Blessed sabbatical Pastor!

  • Besides Pastor John Piper, recently, Pastor Francis Chan – mega church pastor and author of “Crazy Love” resigned from his church which he started and took a long break to seek God’s on his future direction. It is important to take a needed break and seek fresh direction. The danger is we do not know when to take a break and pride build up and fall into sin as we have seen all over the world.

    Blessed sabbatical and well needed rest, Pastor! Hope you still post your blog regularly, I enjoy reading your blog.

  • Enjoy your blessed sabbath Pastor. I believe you will be refreshed and strengthed like the eagle in the book of Isaiah.

    Your blog title made me think of taking a break since I been working non-stop after my studies. 🙂

  • Hi thanks everyone for all your blessings.

    Yes I know those in other occupations wish they have it as good as social workers and pastors when it comes to time-outs. When you do feel a pinch of envy, compare the salaries, and the emotional strain, and you will be instantly healed or at least feel better about it.

    Writing is something I hope to do with greater discipline during the sabbatical, though it may not translate into more blogging.

    Will kick off my MTh (Ed) modular program in January and April, studying an interesting area: Spiritual formation and discipleship.

  • WOW. I’m amazed you look into TED talks and what you posted was one of my list of inspiring designers which knows to rest when he needs to. Enjoy your silent retreat, though i wish to be there ;p May the Lord be with You thru this Sabbatical period (;

  • Yrs ago, I ve attended a camp titled, “The rest of the warriors” (church was having a year of rest). Mark Geppert, the guest speaker, started his witty intro, “At times, i felt “lonely” in the “battle”. when I saw the theme of the camp, I was so excited and cldnt wait to meet the rest of the warriors! wow!”

    Be deeply loved in your rest (Philipp 1:9-11) ……and perhaps be greatly blessed by the rest of the warriors too ;P

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