My sabbatical was amazing -- I am a huge fan. Not only was it a break from work and all that comes with pastoring people and being a part of their lives, Jossie and I and our boys were able to take some time away from Colorado Springs. The time together as a family was invaluable and the joy of being present as a dad and husband for many days in a row was my favorite part.
It was incredible to see what floated to the surface without the pressures of daily work and the requirements of maintaining normal life – changing the oil, mowing the lawn, reading the mail, or running other sundry errands. To alleviate most everything and have few responsibilities was an incredible gift of space. I read a lot, slept a lot and Jossie and I talked, prayed and processed about many things that will impact our hearts and lives for years to come. I returned not only physically rested, but mentally invigorated, emotionally refreshed and spiritually challenged.
When I started sabbatical, I assumed I would jump right back into everything I was doing when it ended. Life would resume as normal. Instead, I have found it an interesting process to re-enter my pre-sabbatical world. Just like it took time to decompress, it has taken time to fully re-engage. Naturally it takes time to get back into the swing of things but as my email inbox starts to get back to a normal level, I am finding that my time away had a profound influence on my thought processes and perceptions of some things I do. I am not fully interested in jumping into how everything was before my sabbatical. It took me a couple weeks to check facebook and I haven’t posted a blog or twittered nearly as much as I used to. It’s not because I don’t like these things anymore or that I won’t use them for personal or vocational use, I just find that they’ve taken a different place in my life.
I won’t check facebook nearly as often as I used to not because it’s not enjoyable but because I would rather spend more time with people face to face than in sound bite interactions in cyberspace. Facebook is a useful tool to connect with people but the problem comes when it is at the expense of those who God has put directly in front of us. In an attempt to connect with everyone I wonder if in the end truly we truly connect with no one.
We can’t recapture time so we must treat it with care. Priorities and values will drive how we use it. So I suggest that personal relationships are of greater value than virtual ones. I love what my good friend Glenn Packiam says about Facebook, Twitter and other social networking tools. They are only frosting on the cake. They cannot replace the cake. So invest in the right relationships first!
I also recommend allowing for space in life and relationships so we can see what God is up to. With all the flittering (and Twittering) around from network to network, following of celebrities, acquaintances and enemies it is easy to never be still enough to know where God is at work. I so deeply want to be who God has designed me to be and do what God has called me to but it is going to take being attentive to where God is. Eugene Peterson hits the target when he says “most people are dominated by a sense of self, not a sense of God.” If we are to be God-dependent and Spirit-directed people we must have space in our lives for more than just ourselves.
So bear with me as blogs may be fewer and farer between and facebook comments less frequent. But I pose the same questions to you. Are you missing out on what is right in front of you for that which is less real and less near? Is your social networking frosting or cake?