Fireside 2.1 ( The BEMA Podcast Blog Tue, 14 Sep 2021 01:00:00 -0700 The BEMA Podcast Blog en-us The Nuts and Bolts Tue, 14 Sep 2021 01:00:00 -0700 d0664441-9ccb-4194-a8d7-a3e43a8dce8b The practical elements of a Sabbath Year. So before we get too far into this journey, I want to talk about the practicals. Am I stepping away from my work? Am I not doing the podcast? “You’re leaving for two years?!” No. No, I’m not. But we do have a commitment to take a break from the regular routine of things and approach our work in a way where God can refresh us and speak to us, because we’ve postured ourselves to listen in unique ways. Again, for most of our staff, this looks like a defined 100-day journey with cleaner boundaries. My journey will take a more ambiguous shape, but it is driven by the same elements in our Policy and Procedure Manual. What are those elements? Let me share them with you.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Your sabbatical is required to have an accountability structure. This means I have people I talk to on a regular basis about how my sabbatical is going, both inside and outside of the organization. I have two teammates who do this for me internally. Weekly phone calls with Lowell Kosak (ICM’s Director of Spiritual Formation and the champion of our sabbatical efforts) and Jeff Vander Laan (ICM’s Vice President, and no relation to the teacher who influenced me). I also have a new counselor/therapist for the next year and am procuring a spiritual director for year two. I’m excited to talk and share more about this part of my journey.

FAMILY RENEWAL: Your sabbatical needs to bring physical rest and spiritual renewal to your family. Part of the counseling mentioned above will be targeting specific areas we would like to examine and work on as a couple, both as spouses and as parents. We are also planning a big family vacation a couple years from now. It happens to be the confluence of my 40th birthday, our 20th wedding anniversary, and my wife’s 40th birthday—seems like a good time to celebrate. We want to go to the UK and visit the land of our ancestry and talk about our “family narrative.” That should be fun to share, too.

PERSONAL RENEWAL: You need to intentionally make sure you are spiritually renewed during this time as well. I am finally taking two years of Hebrew classes that I’ve put off forever! Our family is going to read the Torah over the first year together. The Executive Team helped me retool my usual event schedule for the year, so some events I will not attend and others I will attend with a different intent and from a different role. Again, you should see here a change in posture and an ability to see and hear things you wouldn’t encounter in other ways.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: You need to intentionally develop and sharpen your professional skills during this time. I want to bring more organizational and cultural alignment to my work. I am always engaging things that help me develop in a “productive” sense; even the things listed above as “personal renewal” actually contribute to my professional development. What I struggle with is actually remembering our counter-intuitive commitment to prayer and intimacy with Jesus. I need to make sure I am committed to this alignment for these two years. The first year, my word for reflection is listening. The second year, my word is gratitude. I will enjoy writing about these reflections.

COVERING THE VOID: Make sure that all your roles will be covered in your absence. Since my “absence” is not as defined, the needs here aren’t dramatic. We’re doing some things to cover some fundraising efforts, but the concern here is minimal.

So those are the organizational nuts and bolts that drive the execution of our sabbaticals. We have those bases covered. What about the biblical principles of the Sabbath Year? We’ll talk about that next time.


The Sabbath Year Mon, 06 Sep 2021 00:00:00 -0700 a8780ce6-44cc-4fe2-b7c8-bb15ead1b206 Rosh Hashanah, the High Holidays, and the Sabbath Year Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah and ushers in what is called the High Holidays of the Jewish Calendar. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and leads into ten days of introspection, reflection, confession, and repentance. Those days, also called the “Days of Awe,” will lead into Yom Kippur (or the Day of Atonement). You can read more about these holidays (and others) at Chabad or even watch my “Festival Edition” playlist over on YouTube.

The High Holidays this year also usher in what is known as shmitah, or the Sabbath Year. Today, Rabbinic Judaism has ruled that Sabbath Year is directly connected to the land of Israel itself. Because of this, there are no requirements for Jews who live outside the land of Israel. It is, however, a fascinating study in the principles of Sabbath and what God desired His people experience in the land when they entered it thousands of years ago.

Impact Campus Ministries requires all full-time staff to take a sabbatical every seven years. For most of our staff, this looks like 100 days of what we call a “working sabbatical.” It is a paid time of planned, prepared engagement and accountability structures. It is not just 100 days of vacation, although we will often “unplug” from our usual communication (email, etc.) during this time. It is guided by objectives in our organization’s Policy and Procedures Manual and is a very intentional practice for our staff.

For me and my family, instead of engaging in that typical 100-day approach, we will be combining these same objectives with the principles and timeline of the biblical Sabbath Year. I look forward to sharing those notes with you over the year to come and inviting you into this unique sabbath space. I also look forward to sharing stories and prayer requests. There is so much to discuss and talk about!

For now, I simply want to invite you to this space and introduce these ideas. I will be using this blog space to keep a Sabbatical Journal during my experience and I invite you to follow along.