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Sabbaticalogue Wk. 7 – Wisdom is Addressing a Problem Before it Really Becomes a Problem

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Go, go, go. Stop. Go, go, go. Stop. One of the challenges in life is when we have too many “goes” and not enough “stops.”

This week, Laura and I have been spending time with Doug and Shelly Kallestad in Santiago, Chile. They’re missionaries we support at E91, and our time with them has been inspiring to say the least. They moved to Chile thirty years ago to join another missionary couple with a lot of faith in our great God who can move mountains and do the impossible. And that’s pretty much what He’s done.

Over a span of thirty years, one church has multiplied to 32 churches, some of which have been planted in Ecuador, Peru, Iraq, and Sierra Leone. They have several schools for children at risk and a Leadership Institute for the ongoing development of indigenous church leaders and pastors.

After all, we have seen and heard from Doug, Shelly and some of the national church leaders, I asked the question, “How do you keep yourself spiritually and emotionally healthy? It seems like there’s so much “go, go, go” around here. Do you ever experience burnout?”

Shelly answered, “We did start to get out of balance, and so we brought in an expert on spiritual formation and self-care who helped us get back to a proper balance.” Wisdom is addressing a problem before it really becomes a problem.

Thomas Moore once wrote, “The fundamental principle in care of the soul is that the soul needs tending” (Care of the Soul, 276). For about 23 of my 27 years of full-time pastoral ministry, it didn’t dawn on me that my soul needed tending. Call me a slow learner. But experience is the mother teacher. When you have enough bad outcomes in life, you begin to realize maybe you need some better input.

This Sabbatical has been a vital input provider of much-needed “tending” to my soul. Just as Doug and Shelly Kallestad and their team have discovered, and just as I have learned through years of benign neglect, “go, go, go” without enough “stops” can lead to a forced stop that one would rather not take.

My advice? Look at your life. Stop long enough to see the path ahead. More of the same does not bring change. If your life, marriage, family, or ministry are charging straight ahead, make sure you’re not rushing toward a cliff.

There’s a reason cars have brakes. Properly applied, they can come in handy. Not a bad lesson for life.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Sabbaticalogue Wk. 6 – Talk About Extremes

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Talk about extremes. Laura and I went from one kind of boat ride to another. We went from a Sunset Cruise in Naples, FL to a fishing boat “cruise” toward a remote island called Palma Real, Ecuador. We went from a tour of $20 million mansions lining Naples Bay to a tour of what we would call shacks, and what their owners call homes, lining the island coast.

We have now turned the first corner of my sabbatical—from rest and renewal to service and missions, and it couldn’t have come in a more dramatic fashion. And for this, we are grateful.

One can only sit on the beach, sit by a pool, and sit in comfortable condos and palatable restaurants for so long. That’s a lot of sitting. Many of us might think we’d love to retire to a life of luxury where we can spend the rest of our days shopping, dining, golfing and eating. Laura and I did that the last few weeks . . . minus the golfing . . ., and though enjoyable, it was a “stepping out” of real life, a vacation—vacating the premises of normal living.

One can only vacate so long before missing the life left behind. Vacation becomes exile when we live too long in the surreal existence of self-focus.

“Where are we going to eat today?” “What would you like to do today?” These are questions that reflect an infinite amount of possibilities to satisfy self. These are vacation questions. Real-life questions take the focus off self and place it on others. “What can I do today to make a difference?” “How is my job making an impact?” “How can I serve my family and others?”

This is why I am grateful for rounding the bend in my sabbatical season, for now I move from self to service. There’s good to be found in taking care of self, and we need times of rest and renewal. But barracks exist to get you ready to go back to the front lines. The only reason to stay in the barracks too long is because of illness. When you’re back to health, you’re ready to “get back at it,” which is exactly where true fulfillment is found.

So, Laura and I have “gotten back at it” by joining an E91 Missions Team to serve in Ecuador. We’re visiting our E91 church plant in Palma Real, Ecuador, which is in partnership with Compassion International and Stadia. And we’ve been blessed to visit our Compassion Sponsor Child, Elian, and his family.

Every time I’m on one of these trips, I’m amazed at the love and joy of the children. Although they live in extreme poverty, they live with extreme joy. Talk about contrasts. While seeking the latest fashion and the latest phones, many of our middle-class American children have lost the beauty of simplicity, that life does not consist in the abundance of things but in the abundance of relationships.

I’m grateful for the reminder. I need it. We live in a world of extreme contrast—rich and poor, spiritual bankruptcy and spiritual wealth, the need for vacations, and the fulfillment of purpose in real life. I pray you help bridge the gap so that, as has often been said, you can “live simply so that others can simply live.”

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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