- Reflection on the past 12 & 1/2 years of vocational ministry, especially the 10 years since PCC began.
- Re-connection with some important influences on my ministry.
- Re-envisioning the next 10 years for me and for our church.
Once I actually receive the grant and began planning, I realized that I had left out something important to me and central to my core values and beliefs: The Tithe. Tithing is the Biblical concept that technically dealt with money (or material things). The Bible is quite clear about this, and I believe that one cannot be a fully devoted follower of Jesus and not give 10% of their income to their local church. I don't mean that to sound judgmental. I'm simply stating that this is part of my core beliefs and values.
But I believe that the tithe can (and should) also be translated to time. Christ followers should tithe their time, in addition to their money.
The Bible expands on the tithe, and most people who were dedicated to God gave far beyond 10%. They gave the 'tithe' and then they gave 'offerings', which were gifts that went above the tithe. I try to give more than 10% of time and money, but the tithe (the first 10%) belongs to the local church.
Because tithing is a way of life for me, I felt strongly that God would open the door for me to tithe the time I'd been given with this Sabbatical. And He did open that door in a very cool way.
First, Erik Edwards asked me if I would consider going on the Puerto Rico mission trip. I remembered how my life was changed with the first mission invitation I had been given - to go to Panama in 1997. Wayne and Nita May's encouragement for me to go on that trip altered the course of my future, and I wouldn't be in ministry today had they not invited me. So, when Erik asked, I wondered "How might God use this invitation to change my life again?" I had the rare gift of some extra time, so I actually could go without a burden on my schedule, and I thought God had put it in front of me. I prayed about it, talked with Susan, and agreed to go. In most every mission trip, there is some play time and some work time. The work begins today, but the playing has already happened. Yesterday, we went snorkeling. Here are a few pics:
But one week was not a tithe of my time. I felt God wanted me to do something else, and there was also one week that was still 'open'.
PowhatanIncreasingly, I felt that God wanted me to give that week back to PCC, in the way of a mission project at our Powhatan campus. I would not do my normal work or spend time working in my office - that would violate the spirit of my Sabbatical. Instead, I would quietly come in every day and would install the landscaping that was so badly needed. Someone heard I was going to do this and offered to donate the money to buy the plants.
But as the week approached, I started to feel like I should invited others to join me. I wondered how much more we could actually get done if a bunch of people got involved.
Charlie Towler and Chris Ashman agreed to head it up. For weeks, we made lists, inviting the staff into the conversation, refined the list, and signed people up.
It's been many years since I physically worked that hard for that long. For 5 days, I was at PCC at 8am and worked most days until 8 or 9 pm. A couple of days, I'd take a 2 hour break. I went home at 6pm ony one time. Others were a big part. Kevin Mann came all day on Saturday and then every evening he came after he got off of work. Chris Ashman and Charlie Towler were there all day every day, working their tails off. Scores of people were there Wednesday night. More than a hundred pitched in at one point or another. Several people donated lots and lots of time.
I loved the idea that I would be giving 2 weeks of my 13 week Sabbatical back. This was more than a tithe. It was taking the love of Jesus to the 'ends of the earth' in Puerto Rico AND in our back yard in Powhatan. This is how I want to live my life, and it makes my Sabbatical feel complete.
*The Steering Team and I agreed that I would not take a Sabbatical this summer if I didn't get the grant, but would wait until next summer, apply again and see if I got it on my second attempt.
**The grant was given to PCC for the purpose of my Sabbatical, so there was no need to tithe the gift, as it was already given to the church.