Rustlings (May 7, 2018)

Ministry is a marathon not a sprint. We recognize the slow work of God in the life of individuals and the church. While instantaneous conversions have occurred in the lives of the Apostle Paul and a few other saints, most of us move slowly through the corridor of change and growth, so ministry is a marathon. We run beside you, walk beside you, crawl beside you (or sometimes just sit beside you) while you and God’s Spirit set the pace. Because we are moving with multiple people at the same time – not to mention the institutional church as a whole – we rarely get to ‘clock out.’ The end of your crisis is typically the beginning of someone else’s. Celebrations and surgeries and dips and losses and challenges all overlap from day to day, week to week and year to year. I cannot remember a day of vacation that was void of a call from you, a call to you or a thought of you. Ministry is a marathon. Add to all this the complexities of our own personal journeys. As marathoners know, when clipping through 26.1 miles of a course, you have to have some rest stops – a place to get food, water and a momentary change of pace to rest the muscles.

Your ministers will be taking some rest stops over the next couple of years. These extended professional leaves – sabbaticals – are provided in our personnel policies to insure our full-time, ordained employees do not burn out…tire out…fizzle out. We are allowed (some might say required) to request four weeks of leave after four years of service to refill the reservoirs that have been depleted. Kendra Plating, one of our pastoral care ministers, will be taking sabbatical May 14-June 10, 2018. She will begin with a 4-day ‘silent retreat,’ and end her sabbatical reflecting on her personal spiritual journey and more fully engaging her family. I will be on sabbatical during the month of October. Dr. John Pierce – Executive Editor of Nurturing Faith and preacher par excellence – will be your proclaimer during these weeks. Matt Rollins who ministers in the area of Spiritual Formation and Outreach and Kyle Matthews who serves as our primary pastoral care minister will both take sabbaticals in 2019.

Ministry is a marathon…a wonderful marathon. It’s time for some rest stops. Thank you for insuring that we are hydrated, nourished and cared for on the journey…

— Jim