As last year ended and this one began I had been speaking with Danelle, the kids and our church leadership about the need for a sabbatical – or at least 6 months off to take a breather from Christian leadership and the daily grind of running a business. I was feeling tired and in need of a break. We generally try to take a longer break every 5-7 years anyway, and as 2016 would be the 6th year at QBC that would be good timing.
However as this year kicked off I found myself in a place at church where I needed to exert a bit more leadership and spend time giving shape to our future. And what I noticed was that as I did this I started to gain energy again. The further this year went along the less I wanted to take a significant break in 2016, and I was finding that a bit perplexing.
It wasn’t just the complexity of re-organising schooling, business and pets for the time away. It was actually more that I wanted to stay. I wanted to stay more than I wanted to travel…Yeah I know… Weird. Over the last few months I’ve articulated this in some different spaces with friends and mentors and what I’ve come to realise is that I wasn’t tired – I was bored and the boredom was expressing itself in weariness. I had got to a place in church life and business where I was on auto-pilot and its not a place where I function well.
I’m beyond constantly chasing a new challenge, but for some time now I’ve felt some dis-ease in my life at its relative ease and comfort. Part of me has said ‘just be grateful and enjoy it’, because plenty of people would love to have my life, while another part grates and struggles with the absence of fresh focus and initiative that seems to generate new energy.
I’m much more careful these days about what I sign up for, so I’m not about to embark on an expansion plan for business, or a bold new initiative at church just because I’m bored. These are all double edged swords. Pick the wrong project and you can end up signed up for misery for a long time.
But it has alerted me to the fact that if I am to have some degree of longevity as a Christian leader then it will involve functioning primarily in the areas that I am gifted in – leadership, communication and mentoring. But more than that it will see me breaking new ground in some way and leading people to attempt what may well be unfamiliar. After some nasty conflict experiences, I think I backed off for a while on pursuing change initiatives because I just couldn’t be bothered with the aggro that may accompany it.
The problem that comes however is that when leading a church takes the form of ‘oiling the wheels’ I slowly begin to zone out mentally and more easily see the negatives of church life rather than the potential. I’d like to think I’m still careful to listen to what God is saying rather than just sating my need for a bit of an adrenalin hit, but I can’t live oiling the wheels.
Conversely Danelle is now in need of a break. It wasn’t so long ago she would regularly tell me how much she loved her life, but in the last 12 months its demands have left her exhausted. She hasn’t said those words for quite some time.
Homeschooling two high school kids is a full time job in anyone’s book and she is committed to doing an excellent job of it, so it takes a significant amount of time. Then she co-pastors with me and while she is only employed officially a day/week she does that simply in admin work, before meeting with people. And her gifting sees her most drawn to people who are struggling with life and require a lot of energy. This saps the emotional tank. Add running a home, overseeing a charity, being my bookkeeper and its easy to see why she needs a break.
She has had some stomach issues (irritable bowel) that she has been seeking a medical solution to, but recently the doc suggested the cause may actually be stress. This pushed a button in her as she allowed herself to accept that life was really pretty out of order and she actually wasn’t coping as she would like to.
So the end result of that is that the kids are going back to school next year – the home schooling adventure ends… They are quite looking forward to it, but I am pretty sure Ellie will come home after one week and ask if we can change back… Early starts, bus trips and homework might just take their toll. Danelle is also going to take at least 6 months off church work, thru to January if not not longer to get her bearings again.
And then we will take a longer holiday this year in lieue of not taking a sabbatical next year. Come July 4th we will hit the road north and be gone for two months. We’ll spend some of it in the north west where the batteries seem to get recharged so easily and also some of it overseas and down south. I have won a trip to Koh Samui in August so we will do that for a few days and then hopefully head to the south west before coming back in September in time for the new retic season to kick off.
That’s life for us – funny how shift happens.