June 14, 2016 7:38 pm 1 comment


Half-way through, now. Whew! It goes by so fast, and yeaaaah, I know what you’re thinking. It is odd that I would be posting about learnings from an experience, before it’s even done yet. I mean, who’s to say that some epiphany at the end, won’t make the whole perspective from mid-way completely moot? No one. But at this point, I believed that I’ve stumbled across some major keys that will help anyone who is about to embark on their own, first sabbatical. So!…

1. Excavate Your Soul

When I started sabbaticalling (as I like to say), I didn’t really have any real plans. For real, just ask my wife. No trips, no vacations, no destinations in mind. Boring! I know. My time, leading up to this season, was one of those burning-tears, streaming-down-the-face, blind-dashes to a finish line of sorts. And then, nothing. There are people who are more proactive, more ambitious than I, who have been planning their sabbatical down to the minute, years in advance! I have friends who have reserved their hotels and booked their flights, and who have made the most of their’s; arranging trips to visit other churches, exploring other creative facilities, taking their families on voyages, and venturing overseas to do missions and experience vision trips! Me? Nada. Well, almost nada.

I think I had done maybe one preemptory thing right. I set up eight Skype appointments, with a life coach. Boring! I know. But I knew I wanted to do about one session every two weeks, and wanted my final session to land in sync with the end of my sabbatical. So two months before my sabbatical began, I started Skyping with a new coach, Michael Warden over at Ascent Coaching Group Inc. One of the things I love most about what Michael does, is how we excavate, or dig into my heart & passions. His whole approach is to identify what makes you feel alive, identify your values. Now, this isn’t a Myers-Briggs-meets-Strengths-Finder 101 points on an exam to determine your what “personality camp” you should build a cabin in. No, what Michael says is simply put: “Each heart is different, and therefore yours is different and unique. Your values and how you choose to classify them is going to be unique to you.” In this process of excavating my soul, I’ve learned more about what my heart needs in order to be fully alive. I’ve defined five or six values that make my heart feel fully engaged with a project, endeavor or relationship. It’s helped me cut out a lot of fat in my life already. The busyness, or worry, that came with things I used to fret about, now I can identify that many of them weren’t fulfilling my heart and purpose, and I can loose the anxiety that came with that thing.

2. Write Down Your Priorities and Parameters

There is an important misnomer here that I feel should be pointed out. Sabbaticalling is not “a break from work”.  It is not a big vacation that you’ve earned after years at the grindstone, it is a dedicated time to filling your life with something else.  Priscilla Shirer points out in her study, Breathe: making room for Sabbath, that the principle of Sabbath is the command to regularly remove things in our lives that could “become masters over us”.  In other words, make room for the things that should master us. Yet, I know for me, I have made an idol of busyness, and many other things.

A good practice is taking time to write down some of the things that control us when they are out of check, things we think we have to do, scale them on a level of 1-10, how much they control you, and then write down the things that are actual priorities.  See, Sabbath, is actually making room for the things that should come first. When God told the Israelites not to work, it was probably the first time this nation of slaves had ever heard such a command. Not work?  Work was all that they knew, all they had ever done, and probably all they would ever do, and yet their God was telling them, for the first time since Creation, “Don’t work, don’t gather, and don’t fret.”  It probably felt like the most unnatural, and yet freeing practice they’d ever experienced to this point. So, in your Sabbatical, or in your Sabbath, find what is it you need to stop. Even if it’s awkward, even if you feel you have to do it, make room for your soul to delight in something more.

3. Give Yourself Margin

Like I said, I didn’t plan much, and this has worked out greatly to my benefit. We took a trip to a local State Park, and have plans to do another road trip tomorrow. Then, my wife surprised me last week with a trip to visit my parents, who are residing in Norway at the moment. My amazing wife even “kicked me out of the house” a while back to go stay at a buddy’s cabin for a couple days, to let me just write, read and pray. I did have hopes for this time, I did want to get a lot done, and launch new things. I can tell you that I wanted to re-design my website, launch a new collection of stock videos & images, start a podcast, visit a few churches, etcetera, etcetera. But what I have now, is room for God to take me places, show me things I may not have made time or room for in my schedule, had I aligned a lot of to-do lists, and coffee appointments


So in the second half of my Sabbatical, I’m repeating these steps, mostly in reverse.  I’m starting with a lot of margin, time to talk, time to process with my wife and friends. Also, I want time to see what new interests I’m drawn toward when I’m rested.  From that, I’ll re-evaluate my priorities. In the end, I hope to take all these new found values, and will be ready to end my sabbatical and live from my heart and calling.


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