Let's face it, most people don't look forward to their holidays finishing and I must admit I wasn't looking forward to my sabbatical finishing either. I had such an enjoyable time. But it is nice to be back … and to see everyone again.
I realise that there are a variety of expectations that people may have as I return from my sabbatical: that I will bring revival with me, that I will have a new vision for the future of the church, and some may have thought that I wouldn't come back at all! The reality is that I had a very good rest, which is what 'sabbath' is all about. It was a rest that was much more than merely a holiday. It was a time of not doing a whole heap of ministry tasks for an extended period of time. As a result, I truly do feel well, refreshed, refuelled and looking forward to getting back into church and ministry life.
While I was away, everything has gone exceptionally well. In fact, so well that I honestly thought of taking more time off ... or that maybe I had become redundant :) All credit to our church and its leadership team. Well done! [I know that this time has been a learning and growth opportunity for others too] There is obviously some excellent spiritual momentum in our church right now, which is great. God is always at work and he's never dependent on any one person - including me. So, as I return, I look forward to seeing all that God is currently doing continue ... and accelerate as we move through the rest of this year.
One of the best things I did during my time off was to disengage from pretty much all technology. I de-activated my Facebook, avoided Twitter, didn't do any church or work related Email, engaged in very limited Internet surfing, and stayed off my BLOG for the entire 12 weeks. It is amazing when you STOP all of that inflow how much your head clears and how much you realise that your life can easily be filled with the clutter of a lot of trivial things, to the point where it becomes all-consuming and even addictive.
As I now re-engage, I have decided to stay off Facebook. Keeping up with 3,500+ 'friends' is an impossible task and many of them were only acquaintances or people I had never even met. A recent article in the Melbourne Age only confirmed my decision. I'll continue to use Twitter and to write a few BLOG posts each week, but I have turned off the comments section on the BLOG, as it takes a lot of time to read and respond to them all. Finally, after clearing over 2,900 emails yesterday, I 'unsubscribed' from a heap of newsletters ... most of which I never get around to reading, but simply clutter up my Inbox. Hopefully, all of this will help keep my head a little clearer and enable me to be more fully 'present' ... to God and the people I interact with.
Click here for Part 2.