Dearest Hope Family,
Being a faithful church and building a community for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in our neck of the woods demand great intention, deliberate, heavy-lifting, and sustainable rhythms of rest and work. The pattern of one day in seven set aside for rest and renewal is woven into the very fabric of creation. The Bible also commends that rest/work pattern be applied for longer seasons, too, like a year of rest after seven years of labor or a jubilee year after 50 years.
Part of the way we intend to shape our culture of leadership for long-haul resilience at Hope is to build in times for sabbatical: intentional rest, renewal, deeper or new rhythms, and more focused reflection.
It simply makes good sense. Steven Covey is famous for his example of a handsaw that has grown dull with use and lost its cutting edge. It needs to stop the immediate work and be sharpened. Farmers rotate crops and areas of cultivation so as not to overtax the land and let it lay fallow for a season to prepare for ongoing or even greater fruitfulness. People are like that, too. Whether one day in seven or for longer seasons, it is wise to set aside times to stop the immediate work, sharpen, and prepare for ongoing or even greater fruitfulness. At Hope, after three years of service, our elders take a year of sabbatical rest and our deacons do the same. Pastors, too, are invited to pursue a sabbatical rest – which is why I am writing this morning.
I am thrilled to have an intentional season of sabbatical rest for this summer. From the middle of May until the first of September, I will enjoy some time to rest, renew, and pursue some focused learning. I am fully aware that not everyone has this luxury of a sabbatical. Let me assure you that I receive it neither as an entitlement nor as a reward but as a gift, a gracious gift, from the church to me and my family.
Keep your eyes peeled for a letter from the Session and a letter from me that will fill out some more of the details of this sabbatical season for me and my family as well as how we will ensure that Hope is overseen and cared for well during the summer months.
Lastly, and very practically, I have been asked about communication and interaction while I am on sabbatical. While I will be taking a rest from the immediate responsibilities and day-to-day operations of the church, I am not taking a break from relationships and friendships! My family and I are free to enjoy social gatherings and your company when we are in town. Just not too much talking shop about church, please!
I and the elders are eager to talk with you should any questions or concerns arise as you process this announcement, and I would humbly ask that you join me in praying that my time away would indeed be a sharpening for even greater fruitfulness when I return and many for years to come!
Grace and peace,