Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why I take a Study Break

I need your help. Every summer, I take a study break in addition to a vacation. I've done this in different ways. Sometimes I break it up. Some years I've gone away. Some years it's only two weeks. But early every year (like in January), I try to get a sense of my own pace, fatigue, spiritual and emotional health, and the condition of my family. Based on these things, I plan my summer and, specifically, my study break.

Most people don't really understand why I take a study break. It's ok. I don't really understand what most people do in their jobs. Likewise, most don't understand what I do in mine. But I am quite sure of this: being the senior leader in a church like ours, coupled with being the primary teaching pastor leads to a very high burnout rate among my peers. Let me explain a little more...

I LOVE being the Senior Pastor of PCC!! But in addition to being the most fun job I've ever done, it is also the most challenging and taxing. I have found that the combination of trying to be an intuitive, strategic leader AND a creative, excellent and effective communicator every weekend is somewhat unique. At moments like the one I'm in right now, I feel pretty good, but also like I'm slowly draining. I'm older now, and I can see the pattern of my life better and in a more mature way. I know I have to have some extended time working from a different altitude, thinking about our church from a birdseye view, and seeing PCC from a very big-picture perspective. I also desperately need to dig deep into some Bible study that doesn't require me to write a message out of it. And then there are some projects that I can't seem to get done, such as:

- I'd very much like to do a video curriculum for new believers that can be shared online or through DVD's. This would be 8-12 sessions that would cover the basic practices of a good spiritual life. What does it mean to pray or have a prayer life? Bible Study? Giving/Tithing? Small Group life (Community)? The symbolism and significance of Communion (the Lord's Supper) and Baptism. What is worship and how do we do it? I could easily spend 80 hours or more developing this, and I'm not even sure I'll get it all done on this break, but I'm going to try.

- Series planning. Beth and I (and some others) did a good job earlier this year of planning our services out into the summer, but we're not planned out beyond July. I have got to spend some time finding a fall series that's as good as Wild Goose Chase was (no small task), and plan us through the end of the year.

- Restructuring. A church like ours should restructure our staff every 18-36 months. We're not the same church we were 2 years ago. We'll need to have a staff that's ready for 2,000 people in 5 services in 3 physical campuses plus an online campus.

- Coaching Network. I'm committed to organizing a coaching network for Senior Pastors who want to take their leadership to the next level. I have a website and am just about ready to launch this for the fall. This is Kingdom-minded work, and I'm really excited about it.

- Read 4 books: QBQ by John Miller, The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, and Innovative Planning - your church in 4D by Bud Wrenn

- Other things include incorporation for PCC, some work for our teaching team, learn how to use Evernote, prep for a staff retreat and for my leadership summit presentation, prep for a VERY exciting church-wide study that begins in mid-October, catch up on some leadership blogs (Michael Hyatt and Tony Morgan particularly), and finish moving all my files to the cloud, just to name a few.

In addition to all of this, I'm going to dive deeply into a study on the book of Hebrews and will blog a lot about my journey through it.

AND, finally, I'm hoping to rest some. Recenter. Take some long walks and hear God speak. Pray for long periods about our church, our people, our staff, our leaders, and our future.

As I think about all of this and look back on the agenda I just created for you, it occurs to me that I've already bitten off more than I can chew. I'm going to have to whittle this thing down, and I haven't even started my study break yet!

What I'm hoping that you see is that study break is still working. It's not vacation. But it's working in a different way. This year, I'm mostly going to be gone. God blessed me with access to a few places that folks have generously lent me or rented to me at a very low cost. I've got some fun planned and some family time, in addition to the work.

When I go away, I always get a little pushback about the teaching platform at PCC. I'll have more to say about that in a blog post this week, but for now, let me simply say that you will not be disappointed this year. In fact, I think you are about to be blessed!

Thank you for supporting me while I take a breath. You can help me by being positive with folks who don't understand. This is important, and being away for a short while will make me better in the long run. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And I can make it for the long haul if I get a little break like this once a year.

Thanks again,


1 comment:

jf said...

This is great news. We will of course miss you, but you are overdue for this rejuvination period Brian. PCC has some wonderful leaders who'll make this period seamless, as usual. I'll continue to pray for you while you're away. You just recharge and enjoy your wonderful family. Your sheep will be just fine for a while.