A Sabbatical Perspective

I came back from my summer sabbatical to find 832 emails in my inbox but it was totally worth it. I unplugged big time for the last three months. It has been 21 years of pastoral ministry (since I was 23) without more than two weeks off in a row, so having twelve weeks was a true gift to me and my family. I am eternally grateful for the elders, staff, and members at City on a Hill, who allowed me take this time off with my family. We traveled (including a 4300-mile road trip), visited friends and family, and enjoyed some wonderful time together.

Outside of time with my family, this sabbatical was an incredibly beneficial time for rest, reflection, and renewal. I had many days where I ended up spending hours in God’s Word, prayer, journaling, and being still in God’s presence. Without the concerns of the church, email, meetings, sermons, planning, and other pastoral responsibilities, I was able to step back and get some perspective. Here are a few things that God showed me.

Doing things for God is not the same thing as walking with God

I realized how good I am at doing things for God but not necessarily walking with God in those things. I realized how often my thoughts were not on God or sometimes even the person I was doing something for or with. At times, I internally I operated like a functional atheist. I forgot God and in doing so I starved my own soul of the joy of walking with God. Getting reconnected to God this summer helped remind me of not just how great it is to walk with Jesus daily but how much I desperately need it. My pride (“I got this”) had blinded me to to how much my soul needs God every second of every day.

Rest Better, Work Better

I come from a long line of workaholics. I am not great at taking a regular Sabbath (a day of rest each week) but the Lord showed me how foolish that is and how it flows from pride and a profoundly misplaced sense of self-sufficiency. Only God is infinite. Only God has unlimited resources. Only God is self-sufficient. Yet, He is the one who modeled Sabbath for us when He rested after creating the earth. I have been a fool to deny my need for a regular Sabbath. Resting this summer helped me to see how good rest is, just like work is good. Sabbathing is a gift to help me rest, refocus, and remind myself of who God is and who I am. These things help me to come back and work even better than if I hadn’t taken off.

There are many other lessons as well but those are two big ones that I ask you to pray for me about. I don’t want to forget these in the business of the fall. I also hope you will consider these truths for yourself as well.

I am grateful to be back and look forward to all God has for CoaH this fall!

Love you all,

Pastor Bland