On Sabbatical

We do not often take opportunities to reflect on the directions of our life, and the impact of the work in which we have been investing ourselves. If we were given opportunity to do so, I wonder how many of us would know where to begin? What are the measures by which we evaluate that in which we are investing our time and energy? Without some objective measurement, we are left with our feelings – which can so often mislead us.

Over the next few months, we have all been given time to reflect on the partnership we have invested so much in together over the past six-and-a-half years. For both us as a family and the church as a whole, there is opportunity to reflect upon the good and the bad, the strengths and the weaknesses. Where have we been going? Does it match up with our expressed and unexpressed intentions? What do we need to strengthen, and what do we need to change? Are there better ways of doing what we are doing?

…and the basis for our evaluation was set some time ago: both in the terms of call, and in the vision statement which the church adopted in 1996. These two documents set out expectations and guidelines for the ministry of church and pastor. How do we measure up against these? Are we moving closer towards their fulfilment, or away from them?

These are important questions for our ministry as a church, and for my own ministry as its pastor. If we are to be about the work that we believe God has laid upon us, we need to be honest about how effectively we are doing it. I am able to recognise certain things I wish I had done differently, and others for which I am grateful. I have appreciated the church’s courage in making some important steps of faith – which courage has been exercised once again in the move towards appointing Glenn Farrington to a new ministry, and in the willingness to address the significant building needs for the future. It is this courage, and commitment to the ministry of the church and its pastor, which has enabled this sabbatical time to come about.

Over the next few months I will be engaged in research of a pastoral nature, as background for a Masters in Theology thesis. And there will also be some personal research and reflection, as we sit back and take stock of what God has been doing and where God may be leading us.

It is my prayer that this time will reinforce the important things, identify those which need to be addressed anew, and give us a renewed sense of God’s call upon our life as His people. You will continue much in our thoughts and prayers over the months ahead.

July 25, 1999
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