This will be my final blog post/devotion for quite some time; if you haven’t yet heard, the Elders have generously given me a sabbatical for the entire month of July in honor of my ten years of full-time service at PVCC. Barring some extreme emergency, the Halliburtons will be completely out of the Prairie View loop from July 1-31. I’ll be out of the pulpit for a total of six Sundays (five in July, and the first Sunday in August).
As I prepare, I think it’s reasonable for churchgoers like yourself to have some idea of what exactly I’ll be doing in my time away (after all, I am still getting paid). So, without further adieu (and without too much detail, given the public nature of the internet), I present to you my sabbatical plan!
- First, I intend to spend time with family. While full-time ministry presents a great deal of scheduling flexibility (I often work from home or coffee shops, can usually move things around to accommodate Olivia and the boys, and regularly hear “family first” from the Elders), that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes miss out on things. It will be nice to have more time with my wife and kids; we already have some things planned together (like a Cincinnati Reds game), and I hope to spend one full day with each of the boys doing something they’d like to do.
- Second, we intend to travel. When you “work” every Sunday, getting away isn’t always easy. And when we do manage to get away, I often have the next sermon lurking in the back of my mind. July will give the five of us the opportunity to visit family in San Diego and Cincinnati; it will give me the opportunity to go on an individual retreat in southern Indiana; and it will give Olivia and I the opportunity for the ever-elusive weekend away from the kids in the mountains of North Carolina – all without a sermon to preach six days later.
- Third, I intend to rest. Sure, my grass will still need to be mowed, bills will still need to be paid, and I’ll still be taking two summer courses at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. However, it will be a relief to simply live as a Christian for a month, rather than doing so with all the pressures and expectations of a “church leader” who’s “on the clock”. On that note, I’ll still be reading my Bible and praying; we’ll still be attending worship services throughout the month (though not at PVCC). Who knows; I may even get crazy and sleep past 7 AM one day!
Now that you have some idea of what we’ll be doing this July, a few more comments are in order:
- While the purpose of this sabbatical is to unplug, that doesn’t mean we don’t like you! We’ll still be thinking of you and praying for you. And if you happen to see us at the grocery store, don’t be scared to say hi!
- I also like to think of this sabbatical as something other than just another vacation. The Elders haven’t given us this opportunity just because we needed a break from the day-in, day-out grind ov vocational ministry (though we do); they’ve given this to us for the sake of our long-term health and ministry. I hope to come back in August feeling rejuvenated to serve God and PVCC well.
- This month could also be educational for us, and for you! Since I first arrived at PVCC, I’ve wanted to make sure that our church doesn’t become a “cult of personality” centered around any one particular leader (there’s a reason we divvy up Sunday morning speaking responsibilities). It will be good for us all to remember that PVCC existed long before I got here, and can survive without me and my family.
- If an emergency does arise – after all, crises don’t take sabbaticals – don’t hesitate to reach out to the Elders or Zach. They’re your shepherds just as much as I am, and will be more than willing to help as best they can.
I’m sure this month will be some combination of enjoyable, strange, and humbling. This will be new territory for all of us; for better or for worse, it’s been 10+ years since the PVCC pulpit has been occupied by someone other than me for such an extended period of time. And as the time approaches, I’d ask you to pray for me, Olivia, and the boys as we rest. I’d encourage you to pray for the Elders, Zach, and Nancy as they shoulder many of my usual responsibilities (especially preaching). I also hope you’ll be praying for PVCC as a whole; though I’ll still be praying for the church, now’s as good a time as ever for you to resolve to do it too.
I’m grateful for your understanding, and for your kindness to my family – not just for one month in 2023, but for ten years of allowing us the privilege to serve you, serve alongside you, and be served by you. Lord willing, we’ll be back on August 1 to keep following Christ together.