Daily Archives: April 9, 2019

Surviving Your Sabbatical

Spoiler: I survived, and am still here!

The Task

The goal of my sabbatical was to document new forms of discipleship visually. But in short my plans worked out how God wanted them too rather than how I had hoped they would! See beyond the pew for more info

Ministry as a church leader is unique with its pressures, and joys. But putting down the dumbbells of ministry is actually hard, accepting your not in control, and someone else may or may not pick up that dumbbell, is not easy. But it is necessary if the sabbatical has a chance of resourcing you and your churches. I found four ministers who held some of my work tow home i am so greatful and just accepted the rest would have to be put on hold for a few months!

Prior to the start date of the sabbatical, I remember sitting in five guys Resturant with a minister friend who offered some sage wisdom, they said:

at some point you will probably seriously wonder whether you should stay in ministry or not…

conversation over a lovely burger at 5guys!

Mental Health

I have already had such thoughts so didn’t think that would happen to me again, but they did. You see not being in the flow of church based ministry means you have space to think, and questions bubble up, doubts surface and old insecurities make an attempt to hijack your journey.

Now I was in a rough place emotionally and so for me and my family the sabbatical was came at the right moment. Around mid way through the sabbatical I felt able to produce the following video about my struggles with depression and the journey to wellness.

“Sabbatical helped me slay some demons, and heal as well as face yo to some hard realties.”

Spiritual Health

That’s where the decisions you made about what to do on your sabbatical help, to focus you, steady your path though sabbatical. Not all my plans worked out as I had hoped, Meetings and promises made before sabbatical didn’t flourish.

I never found a church to journey with over the time as I had hoped, didn’t feel very close to God throughout. But here is the rub, God was there. Looking back God used what i saw as failures and opportunities dissipating to create space, to force me to be still and know God is God.

I followed the Northumbria community daily office which has steadied this spiritual ship of mine, giving me rhythm to my day which was so important. I will share some wisdom my sister in law gave me, (she is a nun in the anglican church) In responding to doing a daily office, she replied:

“Just do what you can” -she said, “don’t worry if you don’t do it all, just do what your schedule allows. “

This was such a relief to me and has probably meant that the pattern I am in now has stuck and been maintained. I also went to the cairngorms to pray and take photos which was such a wonderful time of refreshing and photography.

Lobecphotography.com

Physical health:

Be careful, within the first month off sabbatical as I got a chest infection (haven’t had one in years) and the week after coming back from sabbatical I got a nasty cold which stopped me doing regular workouts because I feared getting another chest infection! So make sure you look after yourself.

One of my aims was to receive personal training for 10 sessions, which by the end of, I expected I would be ripped and be fit enough to do the SAS selection process. (yes I do have an overactive imagination). Left is real me and right is alternate me (badly) reimagined through the power of photoshop!

I did however do my ten sessions and apart from surprising the instructor at my lack of weight loss, I got a lot fitter and happier, I now do four workouts a week as a priority and set my apple watch for calories I should burn in a day. All this has brought my cholesterol down to normal, which it has not been for years. Plus I am noticeably quicker on my bike and have more energy for the day so time well spent.

The Greatest Gift

Image by Maciej Szewczyk from Pixabay

Chocolate, Jesus, friends and family, having Christmas off, to one side for a moment. A sabbatical is a gift, though it doesn’t always feel like it at the time, but looking back it is. It’s an unconditional gift of love. It is in my case the church reminding me that I am, under God cherished and loved. It doesn’t matter I didn’t get everything done, but i was able to be unencumbered buy the guilt of there is always something more to do, or there is always something that doesn’t get done.

That freedom, that love, has helped me untangle myself, to some degree, from things I had become a slave of the things that kept me awake at night.

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