I’m Taking the Summer Off: My Pastoral Sabbatical

A few months ago, I shared with the Vintage Oversight Team how tired and worn-out I have been. The combination of my day job and my work with Vintage, not to mention being a husband, dad, and writer, has left me raw and ragged. I shared with the team that I really wanted to take a pastoral sabbatical, but that they would have to figure it out for me, because I didn’t have the energy to make it happen.  

sabbaticalWe are now several weeks later, and I have preached my final sermon of the summer. I am on sabbatical. As I joked with the Vintage folks yesterday, I am taking the summer off so that they don’t have to.

I’ve never taken a pastoral sabbatical before. I have taken breaks from preaching. But this is different. I am not responsible for anything regarding the worship gatherings of Vintage. I am taking my hands off the wheel. I am stepping off the stage and away from the microphone.

In my absence, the Oversight Team and a pastor providentially placed in our community, Jeff Miller, will provide leadership and voice. I am grateful for them and know that Vintage is in great hands.

 

I’ll be honest with you, this sabbatical almost didn’t happen. The building fiasco that we faced at the end of June threw all of our plans into a tizzy. There are a lot of things that I can walk away from, but the community being in limbo about where it is going to meet just isn’t one of them. Our new and temporary space has been a godsend, allowing us to continue to meet without interruption and allowing me to step away without guilt.

During the summer months, I’ll still be involved in what’s happening with Vintage. I’ll be going to our community-building events throughout the summer. I’ll be looking at buildings and having conversations with the Oversight Team. I’ll be working on a new website for the church. But I won’t be preaching or doing any pastoral care. This is a time for me to be quiet and to do some self-care.

 

I’ll be honest with you about this too, this sabbatical really needs to happen. June sucked. If I was running on fumes in May, I am completely out of gas now. Emotionally, spiritually, physically, I am drained. In the past six weeks, Vanessa and I had some of the biggest fights we have ever had. We started to see a therapist to help us work through our shit. I came very close to having a nervous breakdown. We had to have our dog of nearly ten years put down. It has felt like everything is blowing apart.

And I haven’t been able to cope with it all real well. I’ve been discouraged, short-tempered, and cold. I need a long rest to recapture a better sense of who I am. So that’s what I am doing.

 

I won’t be preaching at Vintage. I don’t think I’ll even be attending Vintage, definitely in July and probably not in August either.

What will I be doing on my pastoral sabbatical? Some of it is figured out, and some of it is still being discussed.

Part of it will be spent on vacation, in the glorious slice of heaven known as Long Point Provincial Park in Ontario Canada. Part of it will be spent reading. A reread of The Ragamuffin Gospel is already on the list. Part of it may be spent visiting some other churches. Overall, I’ll be resting, thinking, working on getting better, recharging my batteries so that I can be the best version of myself when September rolls around.

Have any of you ever taken a sabbatical? Is there any advice you’d like to share?

 

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