A Timely Sabbatical


“Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” - Mark 6:31

Is Jesus talking about social distancing or self-isolation? Maybe not. But maybe there is something for us to learn about rest, quiet, and being with Jesus in the midst of this pandemic crisis. Perhaps there is a way for you to consider capitalizing on the circumstances and leveraging them for your well-being and spiritual development. We will probably find more opportunities for reading, listening, learning, and most importantly—being in the Word.

I want to tell you about what this will look like for me. Beginning April 1, I will be taking a three-month sabbatical. Here are some of the reasons why:

First, this July I turn 40! I’m looking forward to it. I have thought for a while that I’d like to mark this milestone year with a season of reflection, rest, and growth. More importantly, I want to see my calendar cleared for more fellowship with Jesus and time with my family. Taking a sabbatical is something I haven’t done before in pastoral leadership but have long wanted to. This year provides a good opportunity.  

Secondly, I’m taking a sabbatical for health and rejuvenation. As our board and staff know (and some may have noticed me alluding to it in my message last Sunday), in the latter part of 2019 I experienced a real tangle with anxiety for the first time in my life. November and December were especially difficult for me. I have learned more about God’s provision of strength as well as a lot about myself. I am so grateful for Pastor Derrick’s gracious care and my wife Laura’s immeasurable support. The guidance of my leadership coach, counsellor and doctor have helped immensely. I need to pay attention to their wise counsel about a sabbatical as well. A sabbatical provides unique vitalization and vision in ongoing leadership and ministry!

The third reason for a sabbatical is my family. In Pastor Derrick’s video email to our congregation this past week he asked, when we look back on this COVID-19 season in five years, how do we want to remember it? I think about our four children, between ages 5–12. I don’t want them to just remember that during the pandemic they got to miss the rest of the school year, memorized verbatim every Disney+ movie, and feed themselves (they’re still not tired of grilled cheese, imagine that). I want them to remember that dad was on the floor constructing Lego empires, outside playing hockey, and in Lucy & Mira’s salon getting his hair and makeup done.

I want to express my gratitude to my friend Derrick for his leadership and work on this decision with me. This is actually an idea we have been discussing for a few months. On one hand, I know this is a vulnerable time for CLA and Derrick has expressed that my leadership and support could contribute in a time like this. But he also understands that this may actually be the best moment this year for this sabbatical to occur. I also know that my scaling back into a sabbatical contributes to the financial relief CLA needs right now. I was glad to voice my desire help CLA in this way. During this time, I will continue in regular connection with Pastor Derrick, and you’ll still see me on Sundays helping to lead services and speak.

I’m praying that God guides you in your Mark 6:31 season. Thanks for praying for me!

Pastor Mike Bidell

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