Every seven years, ministers are awarded a sabbatical. It comprises of 60 days whereby one is encouraged to “do something different". Add this to 30 days annual leave, and it makes for some good time out. I finished the first 30 days of my furlough on Sunday. I’ll be taking another 30 days in June/July, 14 days in October and 14 days in December. This is what I did:
1. Spent a day at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary and valued my time there greatly!
2. Went on a 3-night cruise with my family on the MSC Sinfonia from Durban to the Portuguese Island off Mozambique.
3. Stayed a week at Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.
4. Contended with a break-in at our house. They stole my iMac, Natalie’s laptop and my digital camera.
5. Virtually finished a manuscript for a book of Lenten devotions.
6. Marked about 100 scripts for UNISA.
7. Built half a war-ship (Lego). When done, it will be over a meter long!
8. Played Playstation with my sons, and soccer, and all sorts of other games.
9. Loved my wife by being home for a change.
10. Started on notes for articles I have to write in due course.
11. Spoke at a men’s breakfast in Carletonville.
This is my second furlough. This one started the same as the other. I went into a deep depression for about a week. I suppose it is because of the clean break from being highly in demand to receiving no communication at all. Believe it or not, one has a lot of time to wrestle with the demons suppressed by busy schedules and unresolved complications. I learnt two things. The thing a missed the least: People. The thing I missed the most: People.
After about a week, I started unwinding and began to find myself again. One has to be disciplined to say to yourself: “I am not going to pop into the office today”- a temptation I fell to a few times. I am glad I went on furlough and that I didn’t preach for the first time in 15 years over the Easter weekend.
But now I am back. I feel a change. There is more energy. There is greater assertiveness in protecting myself, my family and my time. And what a great gift it is to rejoin my family at the Glen – a truly amazing community of faith. In 8 weeks time, I’ll press the pause-button again and learn some more things.