Posted by: Tom Gaddis | March 25, 2009

Pre-Sabbatical Jitters

Next week I will be stepping away from my pastoral assignment to take a two month sabbatical. Even though I’ve done a great deal of preparation and have placed the church in capable hands, I still feel anxious at times about being apart from the work here at Father’s House.

I identify with the rich young ruler and his unnatural grip on his wealth. As Eugene Peterson paraphrased it, “He was holding tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go” (Mark 10:17-31 Message Bible).

This line could just as easily be said of me. Though the young guy’s god-substitute was wealth, this old guy’s is ministry. I need to let go. I need to stop. I’m taking myself too seriously and holding things too tight–nervously holding on to ministry, people, and financial stresses, and registering for the first time ever: high blood pressure.

So like the rich young ruler it is my hope that on sabbatical I too will meet the God of the personal encounter. However, unlike the ruler, I hope to respond by letting go of my god-substitute and follow Jesus afresh.

Until then there are a few things I have to remember in order to push back my anxious thoughts and release things around here from my clerical paws:

  1. It is His church, not mine. He purchased it (Acts 20:28). He leads it (Colossians 1:18). He builds it (Matthew 16:18). These verses remind me that I’m not the all-in-all for the church and that Jesus will do just fine for the two months that I am away. He’s not into destroying His work, but He does have plans to bless and prosper His work (Jeremiah 29:10-11).
  2. I need to trust Him and those gifted men and women He has raised up all around me. It is a lot like back in the 70’s when I first learned to tithe. I had to lay down my understanding and trust in His sovereignty that He would prove Himself when I released my money into His hands. So today I place the ministry into His hands trusting Him to care for the church in my absence.
  3. Gladness not duty: My life verse has always been Psalm 100, “Serve the Lord with gladness.” Not with depression or people’s expectations or from a guilty conscience. When the fun and gladness of serving is drained from what I do, it is time for a break so that this may be restored.
  4. My identity is being made in His image and not solely in being a pastor. I never want to be like one minister who was heard saying, “I can’t retire. I don’t want to be a nobody.” Ouch. Lord, let this never be true of me. May my identity always be rooted first and foremost in my sonship with you and not in my role as pastor, husband, father or in being, in my own mind, an amazing athlete.
  5. I’m being led by the Holy Spirit and must trust that these next two months are His plan being worked out in His timing because “my times are in God’s hands” (Psalms 31:15).

Tom Gaddis

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the good word, Tom. Seems to me that your points could apply to any one of us at any given time. Like today.

  2. well said, well done.

  3. Gaddis = “Glad-is”

    Co-inkydinky?

    (At least I didn’t call you “Shirley.”)


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