I have reluctantly concluded that my summer holidays are toast. They have officially vaporized. They are not going to happen. And I’m okay with that. We’re actually in a pretty nice place but here, here’s why they vaporized.
I’m currently serving as a transitional pastor and my basic contract there is up to 120 hours a month, which is a little less than three-quarter time. It’s actually functionally been less than that because I’ve got a very good associate who can preach and do music and pretty much everything else. He was fully producing the services and managing the online portal for our services, so that’s been great, but he recently went on an open-ended medical leave.
So he’s off for the foreseeable future, which means instead of speaking twice a month through the summer at this church, I’m speaking four times a month, unless there’s five Sundays, in which case it’ll be five times a month. I’m also working as a transitional coach in another church, and kind of as a side contract for that I’m providing three sermons a month for that church.
The bottom line is that I’m producing seven or eight different messages per month. When I’m in a transitional role, I often draw from content that I’ve done before, but unfortunately, each church is kind of in its own series. So it’s not like I can produce one sermon and send them both directions. That’s not happening. If it wasn’t for the need to do the video production and stuff, it wouldn’t be that terrible, but it really does fill up your week.
I’ve come to the conclusion that if you have to write, study and prepare a message and then record, edit, and produce it, I can probably do about two a week. That’s pretty much maxing out because of the creative juices required. So that’s the baseline.
Then each of these churches is at a certain stage in search. The one where I’m transitional pastor has received a lot of resumes and done some filtering and now we’re down to the shortlisting stage where some names have gone from the search team to the board of elders. From that shortlist, the elders are deciding which ones to pre-candidate and ultimately which one to candidate and ultimately possibly call. So that adds some regular meetings.
The other church I’m coaching is at an earlier stage in the process. Resumes have been received and going through reference checks and initial interviews, but it’s a pretty intense process with regular meetings on video. Fortunately I don’t have to drive the ten hours return, with the meetings on video, but there is a lot of administrative work in and around that.
So I can see there’s a possibility that both of these roles could actually conclude by the end of August or end of September, but definitely through July and August. I’m recording this in mid-July and can see that July and August will be full. There will not be any week or two off in a block to do a nice canoe trip as we like to do. There will be no extended hikes. There might be some overnight camping, that kind of thing.
But what really makes this bearable and sustainable is that I actually try to live in a way that we don’t require holidays. An extended two or three week holiday is not a physical or mental requirement. It’s helpful to be sure, but there is built into the weekly cycle, the possibility of week to week renewal. We see in the old Testament, this concept of Sabbath, and I find that if we maintain a healthy, weekly rhythm, that there is some sustainability that. There is some longevity in our patterns of living in ministry.
I do like the two weeks off in a block. I find two weeks off in a block does wonderful things for my body and my soul, but really it’s the solid day off per week that actually keeps us going. Now we’re fortunate to be in a beautiful area where we often, even on these full days, are up canoeing by 6:30 in the morning on a beautiful calm day. We see deer and otters and eagles and osprey and herons and all kinds of things. It’s just a beautiful way to start the day.
We are just minutes from hikes. We were just out yesterday on Sunday afternoon and went for a long drive into the hills and put out a game camera where there might be some elk running around. We want to see if we can get on camera elk or bear. So there’s lots of easy renewal where we are, and so we’re making good use of that. But the big thing is that weekly cycle of taking 24 hours off, or ideally, 36 hours. It just makes a huge difference.
So that’s what we’re doing to get through the summer. We know that one or both of these positions will wrap up towards the end of summer, and both will be probably done in the fall.
But when one of them ends, we do not plan on filling that slot quickly. In fact, if they both ended by the end of August or September, we’d be fine. We plan to take at least a month off. If it’s September or even early October, that’s still beautiful season for canoe trips. It’s hunting season, of course, which is an important part of my life and the pursuit of protein. That can happen from where we live. I can be out in the field in minutes, just with the bow or later on in the season with the rifle, just enjoying being out there without getting anything or not. It’s just beautiful.
So we’re going to make it. We’re wrestling through in our local church the whole issue of physical meetings and how to do it and when to do it, which adds a whole other dynamic. But I’ve decided that what we need to do is maintain this weekly cycle; the sustainable cycle. If the week is not sustainable, then it may not be sustainable. So that’s what we’re fighting for. So far, so good.
I’ve actually dropped weight during COVID. We’ve gotten enough walking and canoeing and eating healthy enough. It’s actually been good for us, physically and in our marriage. The biggest hassle is not driving to go see the grandkids that are only six hours away, but in a different province, so there’s a little bit of a hassle with going to see them.
Otherwise, it’s going great living in a beautiful area and enjoying life and ministry and really enjoying the whole video sermon production side of things. It’s been exciting and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve done posts on that if you’re interested.
So I hope you’re doing something to make it sustainable. Make each week sustainable because if your weeks are sustainable, you’re months and your years will be. And when there’s that chance to take that extended block, then you can jump on it and move to a deeper level of refreshing.
Hope you’re doing well. God bless, press on.