Our church council decided a few years back to give the pastors a sabbatical every 7 years, for a period of 4 weeks, with one week before and one week after to transition (for a total of six weeks). April 1 of this year marked Martin's seventh year at the church. It is hard to believe we came here seven years ago. He started out as the Pastor of Children and Youth, and then felt called to lead worship full time, so his position changed to the Pastor of Worship and Youth. These seven years have been marked by growth, change, trials, testing, and many joys. But Martin (and I) also felt the past year that he really needed a rest, a break, from all of the "giving" and just needed to stop and receive for awhile. Pastors are pretty much on-call all the time, so we have gotten calls on vacation, on days off, in the middle of the night, etc... and it can be hard to relax when you always know that someone is going to need something at any given moment. We wouldn't change it, though, because it is very rewarding to be serving God in the center of His will.
We feel very blessed that our church really respects boundaries and family time. They always want us to put family first, and do not require Martin to be at every single event. Our personal phone number is not given out unless we allow it to be, and they allow his schedule to be very flexible depending on what the family needs that week. We could not ask for anything more. Still, it is good to rest. In fact, I really believe that fewer people would leave the ministry from burnout if they would practice resting more, and that their congregations would encourage and bless them to do so.
The Sabbatical officially started on August 4 and will continue until September 7. We have been able to spend quality time as a family, going here and there, with no pressing need to be back for any reason. We've been to Morro Bay, Disneyland, the Science Adventure Museum, the beach, for long walks, to the park, etc... but what I am REALLY looking forward to is this weekend. We are going to be spending the weekend with Anne Ortlund, who has served in ministry for many years with her husband Ray until he passed away two years ago. Ray & Anne have written numerous books about discipleship, leadership, prayer, etc... Anne now hosts "Renewal Days" at her home, where she meets with pastors & their wives to talk about marriage, ministry, direction for the future, hopes & dreams, goals, etc... I look up to her so much and am so honored that we are being invited into her home.
It is always hard for us to leave our kids overnight (we've only done it once before) but we know it will be good for us. Finding childcare for these 2 days was so stressful, but I'm thankful that everything finally fell into place! I just love my sister & my mom and our babysitter for helping us out!
We are truly enjoying our "Sabbath rest" and it is a true gift to us from God!!