6th September 2018
I am back in London this week, following a three-month sabbatical. I have enjoyed the time off, but it is good to be home and back at King’s.
I am very grateful that King’s allows me to take a three-month sabbatical every seven years, although I had actually delayed this one by a year. The first six weeks were focussed on family and home, a highlight being our second son Joshua's wedding. The sun shone, and it was a fabulous day. Our youngest son, Sam, was sitting his A levels through June, and it was great to have more time to support him through this. We also had the joy of attending Joshua’s graduation in July. It is hard to believe our two older boys, Ben and Josh, are now both working and married, and our youngest has finished school.
We also took the opportunity to worship at some great churches in and around London: Jesus House in north London, Jubilee Church in Enfield, and King’s Arms in Bedford. It is always interesting and refreshing to visit other churches, to see what we can learn and to enjoy the novelty of having no responsibilities in the meeting!
Deb and I spent the second half of our time travelling in the USA, a combination of holiday and visiting churches. We had the privilege of spending time with Michael and Laura Fletcher who lead Manna Church in North Carolina, and Greg and Debbie Surratt who lead Seacoast in Charleston, South Carolina. Both are really impressive churches and I will share some lessons and observations from those visits in a future blog. Deb and I also had a wonderful holiday together in California, as well as a fun family holiday in Orlando with our three sons and two daughters-in-law.
While I was away I read a sobering article by Andy Crouch about coping with some of the challenges of being in pastoral ministry. One of his recommendations was to take a sabbatical every seven years to protect yourself from some of the pitfalls that seem to befall church leaders far too often, at great cost to everyone involved. Since we returned from the USA last weekend, I have been reflecting on what I see as some of the benefits of taking a sabbatical. Here are a few suggestions:
1. The chance to think more long term around the rhythms of life and ministry
2. The delight of enriching your marriage
3. More time for reading and prayer
4. Space to gain a new perspective on situations
5. Hearing God personally rather than just for the next message
6. Ensuring your walk with God is not wrapped up in your leadership role
7. Your absence provides opportunities for others to grow in leadership and experience
8. The joy of visiting other churches on a Sunday, and not as the visiting speaker
10. It’s fun
I am so glad to be in a church that recognises the value of sabbaticals for its pastors. I have returned from these three months away feeling refreshed and full of faith for what lies ahead. It has been a joy to be back in the office this week with our fantastic staff team, and to prepare for some of the exciting things coming up this term. I would like to draw particular attention to Vision Sunday on 23rd September, when I will be preaching and telling you more about Vision 2030, the new vision we believe God is placing before us as a church. This is a Sunday not to be missed, and if you have not already done so, please put it in your diary.
Deb and I have had a wonderful time away, but we are both very much looking forward to being back with our church family at King’s this Sunday. We hope to see you there.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.