Last week was my vacation. Most everybody gets a vacation from their job. Most of us do something similar to what our family did; we spent some time at the beach, hanging out with one another and extended family.
I am fortunate – extremely fortunate – in that along with my vacation, I have the option of taking time for a study break. This is not uncommon for folks in a creative line of work. I don’t always take all of my study break time, but I try to get some time away to focus each year.
That hasn’t happened in a long while.
Since January – actually, more like since September of 2010 – I have done a poor job of maintaining a healthy schedule. I have not taken care of myself as well as I should have. I have neglected my own personal spiritual growth. I haven’t had much break time.
I have tried to do more and more with less and less of my internal reserves. As my job and ministry responsibilities grew – as our church grew – I tried to shoulder more, all in my own strength.
Along with added responsibilities, changes and growth at church, we’ve had more than our share of transitions and changes within our family. Since September: Shannon left for JMU, Sydni did a major CYT show and a PHS production, Sarah went to Germany again, I had knee surgery, Tony was diagnosed with a large skin cancer, we lost a dear friend to cancer, we moved, we opened a business, we’re planning a major remodeling project.
We’re not the only busy people in the world. There are others who have had a challenging year, for similar or different circumstances. I don’t claim any greater privilege.
But I know myself. I am responsible for my actions, or lack thereof.
And I am in need of a paradigm shift, a repositioning. I am fortunate that I can take advantage of my study break time to focus on doing just that.
So, this week, I’m going to be intentional about most every hour of every day. Sometimes, I will intentionally take a nap. Sometimes, I will be intentionally taking a walk. I might be reading, or just sitting and thinking. Or listening to music.
It might look like nothing. You might see me and think I am taking it easy, taking advantage of my church and just enjoying a few more days off work. Somebody reminded me last week that many people remain convinced that those of us who receive our paychecks from a local church don’t work that much anyway. Show up on Sundays (now Saturdays as well) and sing or play or preach – how hard can it be? What do you have to do for the rest of the week but play golf and read the Bible? Why do you need a break from that?
I don’t have time or energy to defend the work we do, but I’ll say this: the staff at PCC includes the most dedicated people I know. Most of them give a minimum of 40 hours per week to their job – even those that are part-time. We do whatever it takes.
“Whatever it takes” on my part has not been managed well. I’m stepping back to reevaluate, refocus and let loose the grip I’ve had on my life. I read the following in the Bible, and it gives me pause. Makes me think. Gives me hope that I am not alone in this.
My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 2 Corinthians 12, The Message
Part of my time away will include a break from Facebook and Twitter. I may blog, because sometimes I just have to write. But then again, I may not. Either way, I’ll be off of Facebook and Twitter, cautious with email and the telephone and seeking a good bit of silence.
And praying that strength will come from weakness.