Sabbatical Time

This article is going to be a little different than most. This month I share from my hurting—yet hopeful—heart as I look forward to what I think may be one of the most significant seasons of my life and ministry. In case you have not yet heard, I am extremely honored to be able to take a sabbatical for the first time in this my 20th year of ordained ministry and 7th year of ministry here in LCMC Texas. I will be taking two months of sabbatical and two weeks of vacation time and will be totally unplugged from my job responsibilities from November 1 through January 15.
 
About nine months ago, I felt as though I came to the end of myself. My counselor had encouraged me to ask for help—something I admit that I am not very good at. Faced with feeling completely overwhelmed, stressed, and on the verge of burnout, I decided to take her advice. At the next District Council meeting, I asked for both a part-time support staff person and a sabbatical. What I received from the District Council was an abundance of support and compassion that overwhelmed me. I thank God for the grace given me by these brothers and sisters in Christ! Our new staff hires of Alyssa Moore and Tim Wagner this fall have been instrumental in lightening my workload. I thank God for these coworkers who will help fill the gap along with the District Council and others who have stepped up to help while I am on sabbatical. One lesson already learned is I need to be more willing to ask for help more often!
 
I have been incredibly blessed by the encouraging words people have offered me as I begin this sabbatical journey. Many pastors and other leaders have expressed how happy they are that I am taking this time. One question I’ve been asked frequently in recent months has been, “What are you going to be working on?” I do know pastors who have used sabbaticals to write a book or conduct research. My answer has been a simple, “Not working.”
 
For me, not working is going to be hard. I have been neglectful of my physical and spiritual health. I have failed to establish healthy boundaries of regular time off and have neglected time with family and time with God more than I care to admit. I love what I do, but I have developed unhealthy patterns that are not sustainable. So, it is time to hit the reset button on life and ministry. I will be spending time with family, friends, and Jesus. I will be meeting with a Spiritual Director and my counselor. I will go to my doctor, resume moving my body on a daily basis, and seek to establish healthier patterns of sleep. But my biggest need, and the most challenging task, will simply be not working.
 
So, please pray for me during this time of sabbatical. Pray that God may use it in whatever ways it may be most helpful to Him and His kingdom’s work. Pray that I may experience greater health in every aspect of my life so that when I return to work in the new year, I can be a healthier and more effective leader. Thank you for your loving support. And, consider how God may be calling you to embrace your own journey to greater physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
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Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for LCMC Texas District and Program Director of Harvest Workers, an online ministry training program (learn more at www.harvestworkers.net). During his sabbatical, please direct all questions to Administrative Specialist Alyssa Moore: 512-942-7776 ext. 1 or alyssa@lcmctexas.org.