Sabbatical: Week 2

This last week of Sabbatical was a jumpstart to some of my professional development. I got to spend time with an incredible friend and talk ministry shop and share life, was challenged by my preaching coach, and started my IDEO U class on Design for change. The combination of all three have sparked my thinking and have set the path from my professional reflection moving forward.

GREAT FRIENDSHIP: The older I get, the more I realize how unique it is to have deep friendships that have lasted for a long time. This last week I got to spend time with one of those decade long incredible friends and my heart and soul benefitted greatly.

My friend Erik might be one of the most gifted pastors and leaders I know. His heart for God and the church are contagious and the chance to spend days together sharing our lives, talking shop about the church, and frankly, to be challenged in my own leadership, worldview, and calling. But what I loved most about my time with my dear friend was the way I was simply encouraged to love God more and to find peace in the unique work He is doing in my life. I left my week in MN with a full heart, a full heart for my friend, for Jesus, and for His church.

PREACHING COACH: This last year I had the brutal realization that part of my calling as a pastor is that of preacher. For some reason I never really saw myself as a preacher and just tried to get through the preaching task with as little pain and suffering for me and for the congregation as possible. But as my job has transformed and I am moving from the occasional preaching voice to preaching 40% of the time, I realized that I should probably figure it out. So I called a friend of mine who is a genius when it some to communication and asked him to coach me.

He is also in MN so we got some face to face time, and over some pizza and beer he gave it to me straight. His feedback was not what I was expecting. You see, I have spent this year trying to get more polished in my communication, grow in my narrative structure, and give clear turn signals as I transition between points. And while I am making some progress in these areas, his feedback is that I have lost my edge. In my effort to “grow up” I have given up my edgy, irreverent humor that keeps people engaged and confirms their own questions and concerns. I will do some more thinking of this, but that means in December when I get the pulpit again, it may get a little saucy. :)

DESIGN FOR CHANGE: Part of my sabbatical is taking a 5 week, online class through IDEO. It is a class that is about using design theory for change. I am really far out of my element, but have really enjoyed my first week. Through our introductions I awkwardly entered this class as a local church pastor and get to share space with Twitter execs, marketing directors, and the like.

This week has been an introduction and I am playing catch up trying to learn the vocabulary and translate the assignments for my church context. My brain is already spinning about the kind of change that I might want to work towards in our church and how to develop a staff culture that builds trust and unites around vision so we can be more effective in our vision. This next week starts the heavy lifting so we will see where this goes!

THE PERILS OF HAVING TOO MUCH TIME: On a quick side note, not having to go to work has meant I have had way to much time for reading and watching the internet. And this week did not disappoint. The political theater and the heartbreaking implications of all that went down this week has got me spinning. It is probably a good thing that I am not preaching for a long time, because if I had the mic I could find myself in hot water. So, instead I am just spinning. I am sure there will be a conclusion of some sort and nobody will be happy. What is the role of the church, or the pastor in navigating this. We don’t have a say in the outcome or the process, yet our churches are full of people who are spun out about all that has happened and the implications of it all. For 10 more weeks I have to keep my thoughts private. :) . But, if you would like to grab a bourbon, or give me a call on your way to work, it could be fun to talk shop. My the Lord truly have mercy on us all!

OK, I THINK THAT IS IT!: Week 2 is in the bag. Looking ahead I another week of IDEO class, a couple of surf sessions, and I am unplugging from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am. I bought an old school alarm clock and a kindle, so the ipad and phone are getting put away and we will see how this break from tech will impact me and my family (because they will be doing the same). Week 3, lets do this!