I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.
But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.
He goes on to reaffirm that it isn't because of one particular sin, which is what most of us think when a guy says he is going on a sabbatical to work on his marriage. My mind started heading that direction right away. What really struck me was this next comment:
In 30 years, I have never let go of the passion for public productivity. In this leave, I intend to let go of all of it. No book-writing. No sermon preparation or preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements.
A "passion for public productivity" is not something that I struggle with, with but I could understand that drive in slightly different ways. I have found at work in me, though I would normally characterize myself as a lazy bum, an increasing desire to be productive, to get something done all of the time, everyday. I get up early everyday, even days off so I can accomplish something. I have spent this spring break working, from the time I got up to the time I went to bed.
What is the balance between taking time off and "redeeming the time" (Eph. 5:16)? I am not sure.