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“Gone to the Fields to be Lovely” Summers as Sabbaticals

Posted on June 29th, 2017

This blog is an update from last year called Summer Spirituality. I re-wrote it because I believe this theme needs to be revisited each year by each of us, starting with me.

The Bible teaches there is a time and a season for “everything under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). God has built this into the very fabric of nature’s seasons as we observe the cycle of death and newness every winter and summer. Our churches experience seasons. And so do we. These seasons are limits given to us by God. They are gifts from His hand meant to keep us grounded and humble.

I have violated God’s seasons in my leadership more times than I want to remember. But treating our vacations, and summers, as mini-Sabbaticals can be powerful if we build this into our lives. The way we do this can be summarized in three words.

Receive. Summers are a time to do less and to be more. Providing leadership in God’s church is demanding. Our soil needs to be replenished. If we don’t rest the soil of our souls, we do violence to ourselves – and ultimately to those around us. Geri and I are coming off a very full season – filming and re-writing The Emotionally Healthy Relationships Course for its release in August, leading our EH Leadership Conference in May, traveling to Brazil for EHS in June, preaching and teaching at New Life, etc. And now, I am coming off six days of a “flu.” But this “flu” was really my body saying: “You overdid it, Pete. You didn’t listen – again. So I am listening for you and shutting down until you do!”

Reflect. I typically take a day to be alone with God each month. In summers I take extra days. I re-read my journal and look back at the past year for seeds God might have planted. I ask myself: What is it time to let go of in my personal life and in my leadership? What new thing might be standing backstage, waiting to make its entrance? Jesus said, “Humans live by every Word that comes pouring out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). When I don’t take time to listen, I do work for God He never asked me to do. I am profoundly aware of my need to get away for a more extended time to be sure I am hearing what He is saying.

Reimagine through Listening. I used to let myself go way outside of the box in summer and dream. But I have moved from dreaming to listening, especially to the limits God is bringing my way. For example, I have been meditating on the Sermon and the Mount for the past few months. While I have been impacted (at least intellectually), I know God is inviting me to significant character/life adjustments out of that text. But I need extended time to discern what that is and to give the Holy Spirit space to work on my heart.

I love Lynn Ungar’s poem, Camas Lilies, especially the lines — Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through with blooming.

Try it. The people you serve will be glad you did.

Pete Scazzero

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