Glenn Innes wraps up our series on ‘Leading from Our Soul’ with a personal story of the importance of sabbath, that pause that refreshes.
Yesterday I saw a tweet from a pastor saying how tired he was and expressing how hard the past year has been and the toll it has taken. He is right!
This year has not been normal and for church leaders it has been exceptionally trying. Three things stick in my mind as being particularly challenging. The first is that lockdown happened immediately before Holy Week and our usual Easter celebrations, perhaps the high point of our church year. Instead of planning services filled with reflection and rejoicing we were busy learning the ins and outs of Youtube, video cameras, sound equipment and, of course, Zoom. That substitution took a toll, whether we noticed it or not.
The second thing that seems to be happening is also related to timing. Just as the summer break appears on the horizon and plans are being made for some rest, it seems as though gathering as the church in some form is back on the cards. In conversations I am having, and within my own self, there is a level of anxiety about how we make this happen, when we should make this happen and what it will involve. This fear threatens to steal the rest that was planned and much needed.
That rest is needed because throughout this time, church leaders (and many others), have been busy in so many new ways. Whether naturally creative or not, they have lived as creatives for the past few months ; whether digitally savvy or not they have become technological whizzes ; they have become community organisers and food distributors. This is on top of the usual load of caring for the flock, preaching the gospel, organising the church, leading teams. This has all been exhausting.
The question I have is – ‘Is this the only way for us to do this? Is this the “new normal”?’
I hope you can join me in saying ‘no and no’.
I have learned many things throughout this lockdown. Perhaps the most important came as a kindness from God before lockdown even began. I was preaching on Sabbath and had that moment where I realised I was preaching something I wasn’t living out. I left church that day convicted. We decided as a family that we would finish all our work on a Friday evening and there would be no more work until Saturday evening, phone time would be reduced, we would make space for the things we enjoyed, the good things God has put in our lives.
We are not perfect with it but it was beginning to feel life-giving before lockdown. During lockdown it has been life-saving. Having a time when we turn away from what we are doing for God and toward enjoying what He has given us has sustained me physically, mentally and also spiritually.
Let me encourage you, find time to rest this summer and find time to rest this week, and next. It’s not just God’s law – it’s a good idea!
Glenn, his wife Karin and daughter Zoë arrived in Portobello in the summer of 2018 after 10 years in Aberdeen where Glenn was involved in church planting. Prior to that they were in Vancouver, Canada where Glenn did his theological studies at Regent College. Glenn has a passion for mission and for the local church. Most particularly he wants to see those two things co-exist as God’s people begin to join God on mission in this world. Glenn loves spending time with his family, riding his motorbike and following the fortunes of Aberdeen FC.