Sunday, October 9, 2011
Why I've Never Taken a Sabbatical
I went to a 9th grade volleyball tournament to watch my niece who's very good at it.
It was a beautiful Indian Summer Saturday - Can I still say that without offending someone? - in one of the lushest suburbs of Chicago.
When my wife went into a supermarket to buy a pumpkin after the tournament, I decided to soak up some unhealthy rays on the bench reserved for old guys waiting for their wives to...
Anyway, three reincarnations of the 60s came strolling up to the store in their anachronistic attire with two going in and the other sitting down next to me on the bench.
He asked, "Hey, you look familiar. Aren't you a singer or lead something in one of those bands doing those retro shows these days?"
Me: "If I was, you wouldn't know anyway."
"Seriously, man," he went on, "I've seen lots of those salt and pepper bands that you're in and, man, I really dig on 'em."
Me: "So why are you all dressed up, son?"
He replied, "We're going downtown to occupy Chicago, man. It's our generation's turn. You know only 5% of this country's population got all the cash. Corporate greed. That's wrong, man. You know the song, 'There's something happenin' here. What it is ain't exactly clear. Thousand people in the street.' You know how it goes, man."
Me: "Yes, I do."
He said, "Yeah, that greed, man. We gotta stop it. It's not right, man. Too few have too much."
Me: "Where are you from, son?"
"I'm from around here, man," he replied, "and been here all my life."
Me: "Have you ever considered you are part of the 5%?"
He got up and went into the store.
It's important to take stock every now and then; unless, of course, you wanna go through life thinking there's no room for improvement and, ergo, miss out on the new and improved ways of the Lord that are only experienced by disciples willing to stretch and make room for His latest graces.
That came to mind when the other pastor in our family of faith at First came into my study last week and asked, "Have you ever taken a sabbatical? You've been here over 7 years and I was wondering if you're going to take a sabbatical. Aren't you supposed to take a sabbatical every 7 years?"
Parenthetically, he's been with us a year longer than me; so I'm hoping the members of our Personnel Committee read this and realize he should be going on a sabbatical sooner than later.
Be that as I will press now that it's in my mind, I said, "No, I've never taken a sabbatical for two reasons: (1) I had too much energy and thought I already knew too much when I was younger and serving churches that actually took care of their pastors with stuff like sabbaticals, PAM, and...; and (2) I realize that I could probably use one now but it ain't gonna happen 'cause, well, uh, you know..."
He nodded knowingly.
Actually, I tried to get one funded through some foundation in Bobby Knight and Larry Bird's favorite state; but they didn't like my idea of spending a few months riding with outlaws to figure out why they don't like mainline churches. Besides, it was such a hassle with all the paperwork and... Besides/moreover, a friend who's been at a neighboring franchise church for almost 12 years and requested one just got... Well, uh, you know...
It did get me thinking about what I'd do with a sabbatical if I ever got what ain't gonna happen to moi but which I will insist for our other pastor and will raise the $ to make it happen.
I'd get an Electra Glide Ultra Limited from Woodstock HD with my PAM and 3/2/52/11 $ and take about two months to travel across America; visiting outlaws, inlaws, franchisers, independents, high/low churches, and asking, "What does it mean to be faithful in a country that doesn't give a damn about God anymore?"
Then I'd write another book that no one would buy.
1400 - 1500 pastors leave pastoral ministry every 30 days.
85% of America's churches are declining.
10+ American churches close their doors every day.
Yeah, I think it's time to take stock and take a sabbatical.
Please feel free to mail this to the folks in Indy.
Blessings and Love!