January 25, 2024

Guest Writer: Dane Martin: Sabbatical, PART 1 of 2

Sabbatical is the time of rest, learning, growth, and living into joy.

I am continually grateful for the gift that sabbatical was to me and my family. At different times during my career as a youth minister I have said to myself, “It would be nice to hit pause and prepare for what is to come, and then resume everything.” Sabbatical gave me the opportunity to pause, to reflect, to grow, and to learn more about myself, my leadership, and seek where God is leading me and the youth ministry at Ardmore Baptist.

As I journeyed through sabbatical I noticed various themes and wisdom popping up.

  • Journeys change the traveler, the longer the journey the bigger the change.
  • No better way to teach service than to serve.
  • Listen! Listen no matter what.
  • Slow down!

I was simply a traveler moving through this journey of rest and renewal that we call sabbatical. The journey invited me to appreciate the everyday moments and see them as holy. As a traveler I was invited to remember that learning and growth are part of the journey, they are not obtained at a finish line. Each day I looked to absorb wisdom and joy from what I saw, from what I read, from what I experienced. This looked like taking in the smiles of my two boys when I visited them for lunch at school. It manifested itself in the books I was reading and the people I thought about as I read.

As I read, listened, noticed, and was more present I kept hearing the same words – slow down. I was used to going and being busy all of the time. My mind, body, and spirit were not used to slowing down or taking time to rest. As I lived into sabbatical I found my body and spirit fighting against the notion to slow down. But once I got over the initial angst of a different pace of life I realized that these words were God’s blessing to me.

Here are some books that I read during my sabbatical that I would recommend.

  • Race & Place
  • The Power of Proximity
  • Reading the Bible from the Margins
  • Blessed Youth: Breaking the Silence about Mental Health

I am thankful that God is patient with us, even in the midst of our stubbornness. God knew my pace was not the best for me and it took living and slowing down in sabbatical to learn that. God has reminded me that my value is not in my productivity and what I can do for others. Instead, I have been shown the importance of being with, advocating for, and looking to better understand those around me.

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