Loud and Clear: 4 Things I Learned While on Sabbatical

I just finished up my first-ever sabbatical – 33 days of slowing down marked by intentional reading, studying, praying, and journaling. You may be thinking: “I’d rather have my toenails pulled out than do that!” but I loved it.  Here’s what I learned:

1.    If you are not journaling, I recommend you start immediately.  I was encouraged to start journaling in 2003.  On my sabbatical, I reviewed 15 years of dreams, hopes, ideas, fears, prayers, and blessings. I read about miracles and re-celebrated them. I read about things God said to me that I am still in disobedience on. The power of journaling is not necessarily what you write today: It’s reading what you wrote today later in life and getting strong guidance about what to do moving forward.  

2.    There is no substitute for the bible. I read and researched and studied the bible intensely.  95% of my attention was on the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I was desperate to get reacquainted with exactly what Jesus was up to, why he was doing it, how he did it. I had some massive revelations about Christ’s number one strategy for advancing the Kingdom of God: life-on-life discipleship.

3.    Think your confusion out loud. I’ve learned over the years of coaching people that speaking what you’re thinking is a valuable way to make progress. When we only think, we tend to go in circles. When we speak, we are forced to move linearly toward clarity. If you are on the listening side of this exchange, please give someone the blessing to “talk nonsense” and dream big.  My awesome wife, Michelle, was so patient with my gobbledygook… and it has ultimately led us to some wonderful conclusions.

4.    The still small voice picks up a megaphone when we slow down.  When I left for sabbatical, my goal was to simply refresh and re-attach to The Vine. When I finished, the Holy Spirit was yelling that I needed to take bold action on how I leverage my time and talent. Consequently, I am going “part time with Halftime” (the organization I have been with for 12 years.) Starting June 1, I will focus 4+ days a week building a spiritual growth/life purpose program based on The Joy Model for Colorado men. I’ll have one program for leaders and another for emerging leaders.  More to come on this later.

My conviction about this direction is strong, but you don’t have to take 33 days off to have a breakthrough. I believe you can accomplish the same thing by dedicating one or two hours a day to slowing down, reading scripture, praying about your big questions in life, journaling what you’re thinking and hearing in return, and being coached by someone who can listen without a hidden agenda for you.

Cheering you on!