Our church is in the middle of constructing its first ministry center. We need $3.5 million more to be able to move in debt-free.
Our world is experiencing the chaos and unprecedented turmoil in a pandemic.
Our country is hurting deeply after a series of deaths of black men and women, and the fires of protest and unrest have engulfed our hearts and even our city blocks.
It seems like the worst time for a pastor to take his first sabbatical.
As I drove away from the office Thursday for the last time for two months, I fought back tears. There are many reasons, but at the root, I’m overwhelmed.
I’m overwhelmed by the weightiness of serving the beautiful body of Christ, the church. I’m overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of global and national brokenness. I’m overwhelmed by my own inadequacies and shortcomings. And I’m overwhelmed by grace. Grace upon grace.
I should not be a pastor.
I wanted to be a doctor. After a year in pre-med as a freshman in college, I knew that I wasn’t wired for it. I fell (more) in love with writing, journalism and design. I spent the next four years pursuing that profession and loving every minute. Then.. I can’t explain it other than to say I was “called” to serve the church by a loving God whose love I had known and encountered since I was a boy.
I spent the next 29 years in four years of seminary, eight years of campus ministry, six years as a church planter, and finally the last 11 years as a pastor in Blacksburg, Virginia. Interspersed with ministry was more graphic design, a lot of cancer, financial stress, church splits and squabbles, salvations, baptisms, transformations, the birth of two kids, winning fantasy football, drinking lots of coffee, reading books, spraining ankles, running from wasps, telling a plethora of corny jokes, discipling many, being humbled, officiating my son’s marriage, learning, growing, stumbling, failing, traveling the world on mission, and growing all the more in my love for Jesus.
I don’t deserve to be a pastor. Then or now. I’m more aware than ever of my need for a Savior. Of our need for a Savior. I shouldn’t be a pastor. I don’t deserve to be one. And yet I am graced to be one.
I’m grateful to the people of Northstar Church for the privilege of serving Jesus with them and for their grace in allowing me to step away for this season to rest and regroup. It’s been a long time since I wasn’t in high gear.
So while the rest of the planet is pandemicking and reconciling and our church is navigating these moments with humility and love while also building, I will be sabbaticaling. (Yes, I know that’s a new word. You’re welcome.)
And I’m ready. And yet…
Thoughts from my sabbatical during the summer of 2020.
- Sabbatical reflections: the team I left behind