I was graciously granted the opportunity for a sabbatical from our board of elders after our 7 years of ministry here at Grace. While sabbaticals are becoming more common in lots of different fields, they have been primary in church ministry. Sabbaticals tend to be an opportunity for spiritual refreshment, re-calibration and re-focusing for the future. It’s an opportunity to step away from the daily work of ministry to work ON the minister (as opposed to IN the ministry). Many have asked me what our plans are and how this works, so I figured I would devote a blog post to some of the more frequent questions I received:
In the first post I explained the problem we have as Christians with ongoing sin and with responding after major failure. It is critical you read that post before jumping into this one. In this post I will seek to share a 3 part process that King David models for us that could just lead to deliverance and freedom from persistent sins or rebuilding characters after a major failure. I believe it’s a great description of “Godly Grief” (2 Corinthians 7).
Psalm 51, most scholars believe was written by David after his sins of adultery, abuse of power and murder related to the incident with Bathsheba. In the first 9 verses David wrestles with his sin, it’s impact on his relationship with God and with who God made Him to be (His identity as a God-follower). In verses 10-13 is when we actually begin seeing David’s movement toward God and others. And in verses 14- end we see David’s declaration of who God is and how much David needs God. So the 3 part process goes like this:
As a follower of Jesus we’ve been set free from sin. Yet we all deal with temptation and unfortunately find ourselves engaging in behaviors, attitudes, words that are outside of who God made us to be. So, while I don’t want to provide excuse or say that “everybody sins” so it’s okay – it is unfortunately our reality. Let me clear, I do believe the longer we are believers, the less we should sin. Our goal should be to surrender continually, depend constantly on the Spirit and become who we were always intended to be, pure and holy. But here’s where I find many of struggling — we don’t seem to sin-less in fact we often find ourselves struggling with the same sins over and over again or we never seem to recover from a major failing at some point in our journey. So what happens is we begin to excuse, justify or hide whatever it is we are dealing with and what we don’t end up doing is being free from it. I don’t know about you, but this is not okay.
Our identity is an important thing. It’s much more than “self-esteem” or “self-image” but where we find our value and worth as people. I used to think that working long hours and being obsessed at work was because of the work and how much we enjoyed our work or how critical that work was. I used to think being obsessive in a relationship was because of how important that person was to them. I used to think a lot of extreme activity was because of how much we loved that team, sport or hobby. But I now I’m not so sure about all of that. Now I’m beginning to wonder if there is something more to all of that emphasis? Granted, not always and in every situation, but I think a lot more than I had previously given credence to.
This is a repost from previous years but still helpful stuff (I think):
January 1st! It’s a new year. There is so much that is associated with new years. It’s about a fresh start, maybe a new beginning. What was behind us can be learned from but 2013 is now in the past and we can’t go back there. So what will 2014 mean for you? What intentional steps will you take?
One thing I’ve been learning is that growth doesn’t happen without intentional movement. Obviously we need to look at where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re called to be. That precedes our decisions on what we might do this year.
If I could offer a little advice: