I am on a sabbatical from my role as as Senior Pastor of Discovery Church and as I write we are settled into a rhythm that will see us out for the next period of time. In reflecting the first period they have been a combination of the following:
- Land. Get kids sorted. Defrag. Walk. Sleep.
- Church Planting Conference.
- Weekend Ministry. Mentoring.
- Reflect & Refocus. Write & meditate.
- Weekend Ministry. Mentoring.
That has all added great value so far. It has all served to shape WHY have a sabbatical. With that in mind here are some thoughts that may serve you in your quest to refresh and revive with a sabbatical of your own.
Firstly, let me clarify what a sabbatical is not:
- All work.
- All holiday.
- All professional.
- All personal.
In truth, it’s a combination of ALL of these things. Getting the rhythm right is the key.
So, why a sabbatical?
To refresh body, soul & spirit
To take time out of the regular time commitments and responsibilities in and of itself creates space. It changes the day in and day out nature of work and life. To invest into intentional refreshing, learning, debriefing and dreaming in a way that nurtures your soul is a key to this period. To be able to “unplug” from the routines and responsibilities so when you plug back in it is with renewed clarity and enthusiasm.
Ensuring you make time to read, listen, reflect, write, whatever creates the health and momentum for you. Be deliberate about stopping unresourceful habits and creating new ones with the additional time. Dig deeper into books, podcasts, programs, classes, conferences, and mentoring sessions. Do the things that refresh you.
To reflect on the past
Taking some time to reflect on what has been is essential in this period. How have you experienced the last year? The last three years? The last five years? What are you proud of? What do you wish didn’t happen? What would you have done differently with your time again? Are there things that you have celebrated? Challenges that have not gone away? Relationships established? Broken? Mended?
Write down what have been the top five highlights of the last season. Aim to be clear about WHAT they were and do some reflection as to WHY. Look for patterns, consistencies, themes.
I am reflecting on the these simple questions.
- What am I proud of?
- How far have we come?
- What am I NOT proud of?
- What evidence is there of the positive impact of my leadership?
- What, if anything, is continuing to impact me and my leadership negatively?
- Based on the above, what can I REALLY influence? How?
For those of in Christian leadership it’s worth adding some reflection around being true to what God has called you to do. Reflecting on what degree of peace you have with the recent past and how you sense the leading of God to be into the future. Where is there peace and the absence of peace. They will all serve to give you a sense of where you’ve been and in many ways shape step three.
To dream about the future. And plan for it too (see point six)
What would you create if you could? Really?
When you close your eyes and see the Church, the team, the market place, your marriage, your family, what do you see as possible? This goes well past the hyped “if you can see it you can have it” and deep dives into the the truest reflection of who you are and what is in your heart.
What do you believe is possible? What dreams are in your heart that need a voice? What needs to be given language so others who read it can attach themselves to it and run.
I am challenging myself to be bold, audacious, courageous and faith filled during this time.
To create space in your heart, mind and development
For me, it’s early in the morning. When I am freshest. When I haven’t been distracted by the day. To sit, read, reflect, and write. To spend time reviewing and previewing. To learn as best as I can, to digest as much as I can, to be sharpened as well as I can.
Who can challenge your thinking, invest in your potential and call out the best that resides in you. Even more, what lies in your heart that you have a conviction about making happen? What do you sense God calling you to? How can that begin to take shape?
This kind of self leadership, with a spirit of humility and service, is the kind of leadership that can be a significant benefit to others. Grow you, you grow what’s in your hand.
Learn, grow & be sharpened
I teach this regularly in leadership mentoring, Learn in themes. My themes are based around my spiritual gifts, my responsibilities and my passions. So for me, I am concentrating on growing in the following ways.
- As a husband
- As a father.
- As a leader.
- As a communicator.
- As a mentor (disciple maker)
I have a specific focus on Church life and leadership and am intentionally finding ways to be influenced in that area. Local church leadership, church planting, communicating, self leadership and what needs to happen next. Attend conferences, speak, be mentored, buy lunch. Do whatever it takes to get int the way of activities that sharpen and grow you. Then do more of those activities.
To plan the future
Begin to write down how the future might look upon your return from this time away. What must be focused on in the next 90 days to serve the team and the church or organisation you are part of? Be clear. Be specific. Be intentional and be prepared for your arrival back into your working world.
I suggest the following staged approach to your return.
- Immediate – get done in the next 90 days
- Mid Range – Include the team in the next 3-6 months
- Longer Term – What can your team shape for the next 3-5 years
One word of warning. Avoid the “overload trap” here. The overload trap is when you return, all refreshed and ready for the next big thing that you’ve spent all this time dreaming up and your team has been carrying additional responsibilities and activities in your absence. Then on your return they have even more to accomplish because YOU have had time and space to think about all the he things that are in your heart to accomplish. That will most likely overload your team.
Be able to distinguish between immediate “runs on the board” and the strategic things that need to be co-created with your team. Better you return with clarity and humility than clarity and overload.
As you take this time may it be rich in reflection, deep in growth, profound in transformation and powerful in progress. May you BE a more effective leader as a result.
#leadsmall – because when you do, big things can happen.