I have decided to take 90 days leave of absence from my pastoral duties. The reality is that pastoral work can be physically, mentally, emotional, and spiritually draining. It is sad but a lot of people think that ministers only work one day a week and that is Sunday. The reality is that pastors are on call 24 hours a day seven days a week. We visit hospitals, nursing homes, and the non-churched on a regular basis. Good sermons just don’t magically appear they take time and study. Ministers teach all kinds of classes from Sunday School, confirmation and weekly Bible Studies. Ministers deal with all kinds of people from the most caring and compassionate to the most cantankerous and hateful. We deal with some people that are the most complimentary and to some that have never given anyone a compliment. Ministry is hard and demanding. Many minister’s put ministry above even their families. My wife can tell you real quick that I have put the church before her on many occasions. The sad part is that those times were not pastoral emergencies but they were to attend meetings that in all honesty could have gotten along just fine without me.
I am approaching the 30th day of this leave and to be honest it has been quite freeing and liberating. One thing that I have found out is that I have spent 20 years worrying about others spiritual well being and largely allowing my own to suffer. God’s Word has come alive to me once again. I realize that feelings are subjective, but how refreshing it has been to actually feel the Holy Spirit at work in my life. How invigorating it has been to be able to listen to other preacher’s perspective on Scripture and to sense God at work in me. Sometimes we have to make the decision to take care of ourselves. The past 30 days has reminded me of how little time I have spent over the past 20 years taking care of me. The problem was that I felt it more important to try to take care of everyone else while ignoring my emotional, physical and spiritual well being.
What does the future hold after these 90 days? I’m not sure. Will I ever serve as a pastor again? In all honesty I can’t answer that question. However, one thing I do know for sure is that I will always be involved in some type of ministry. I can’t help but do this. I do this because in the words of the great hymn writer, John Newton,”I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see.”