Four years ago, the administration board approved a compensation package that included sabbaticals for staff members. It was designed to give staff members a one-month period of discretionary time after each three years of service. After discussion with Pastor Nick, I made a request to the elder board in March to use my sabbatical leave from April 23 to May 22, and they approved it. I am so blessed to be part of a church that values the health of its staff. I am not “dropping out” because I am toasted and just can’t take it anymore; I am going away to be refilled and renewed in order to better serve. Because this has not been done before, we have had to address a lot of general questions in the process.
The sabbatical concept is rooted in Scripture and is by its very nature a time of rest and reflection. Genesis 2 and Deuteronomy 5 are key chapters that guide this process. To use this time of rest and reflection well requires quite a bit of “unplugging” as preparation. I have been working toward this for many weeks, and I find myself with mixed feelings. Part of the time I am excited to experience a sabbatical, and part of the time I feel left out of the excitement of living out the call God has gently placed on my life. Also, I am fighting the inner pressure to over-format this month with schedules, lists, and deadlines-- that would completely undermine the whole purpose.
I see this as a time of rediscovery: first a time to rediscover my God, second a time to rediscover myself, and finally a time to rediscover my ministry. It has been difficult to say no to some things that are scheduled for my sabbatical month. For instance, I will miss some important meetings that my heart wants to participate in. I will not be attending EHA weekend services during this time or meeting with our life group. It is a little scary to think about being away from my dear EHA family and co-staff members. But gradually, I am seeing a little intriguing light waiting for me on the horizon. What does God have in mind for me?