Prepping for sabbatical

By Gerry Lewis | Published Saturday, April 28, 2018

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Dream with me for a few minutes. I’m serious. Stop what you are doing. Be still. Turn on your dream machine.

You are about to go on a month-long journey. How will you pack? Do you take enough clothes, toiletries, and other supplies to last the entire month?

Do you try to imagine everything you could possibly need? Do you take a week’s worth and plan to spend one day a week doing laundry and replenishing supplies? Do you take the bare necessities and plan on shopping when you get there?

The answer to that series of questions is probably a solid maybe.

It depends on where you are going, and what you plan to do when you get there. It depends on whether there is a single destination in mind or a series of stops along the way. It depends on what kind of lodging you are planning to use.

Think of your previous travels. How many times have you forgotten to pack something and your trip was ruined because of it? How many times have you packed items you never used or even touched during the entire trip?

I have never had a trip ruined because of what I forgot to pack. I have lugged around a lot of stuff that I did not need. I have overpacked, over-planned, and over-stressed.

I don’t just do it when I travel.

I have come to the conclusion that it is time for a detox and to declutter. During the month of May, I am going to be on a month-long sabbatical renewal leave. It has been in the works for months.

My proposal was approved three months ago, and I was really looking forward tackling some goals and projects. That was until a couple of days ago.

The sabbatical hasn’t even started, and I was starting to experience that familiar feeling of stress that I always have as a vacation comes to an end, and I know that I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted.

Can you relate?

So, all the projects got punted and I unloaded my suitcase, figuratively speaking. What remains is what I am calling a month of detox and declutter.

It is not just ceasing from work, but ceasing from the need to accomplish and be productive. Sabbatical is intended to be time away with purpose and plan with a goal of something eternal. Lutheran minister, David Ellingson, describes sabbatical as “a time to relearn and rehearse that critical capacity to reflect, which transforms dreams of vacation into new visions of vocation.”

So, there will be a little travel for enjoyment. There will be relaxed and reflective reading, naps and decluttering of closets (literally and figuratively). And there will be a renewal of my honest belief that my life – not just what I accomplish, but how I live – matters to God.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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