“But wait! If I could shake the crushing weight of expectations // Would that free some room up for joy // Or relaxation, or simple pleasure? // Instead, we measure this growing pressure // Keeps growing, keep going // ‘Cause all we know is // Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa // Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop!”
— ”Surface Pressure” from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto”
As of February 8, 2023, I have served in full-time ministry at Schweitzer Church for eight years, almost the entirety of my post-college adult life. When I began my time at Schweitzer, there was not a Creative or Communication Team, as we have today. During my time here, the demand for creative projects and the necessity of streamlined communication has snowballed and grown around me. Particularly since the infamous lockdown of 2020, the pressure of my position has weighed heavily upon me. The lyrics of the song from “Encanto” have deep, albeit humorous, meaning to me and my life.
It was therefore, an extremely welcome bit of news to learn that beginning in 2021, all full-time employees of Schweitzer Church were eligible to take Sabbatical Leave after 7 years of employment. I was immediately interested in the possibility, but did not know where to begin or how to realistically take the time off work without leaving my coworkers with heaps of extra work. As I began to look into it more, I realized that there is hardly ever a “perfect time” to take the Sabbatical Leave. But as the scripture says in Exodus 34:21, “You must rest even during the times of planting and harvesting.”
After meeting with Pastor Jason and Pastor Spencer about it, it became clear that the time to take my Sabbatical was now. I have done my best to schedule my leave in such a way that the burden upon my coworkers is minimal and have sought to craft my time of rest around three Pillars of Growth: Spiritual, Personal, and Professional.
THE FIRST PILLAR: SPIRITUAL GROWTH
I intend to spend a significant portion of my Sabbatical diving deeper into spiritual practices such as Prayer, Study, and Fasting. Like many before me, I often find myself wrapped up in the busyness of life and slacking off in the spiritual disciplines that are crucial for followers of Christ. Temporarily removing some of the responsibilities of work life will allow me to reestablish the habits that have waned and strengthen my relationship with God.
I also look forward to the opportunity to attend worship services free of the burden of the behind-the-scenes world that often hampers my ability to participate in the worship fully. I am excited for the opportunity to visit different churches and experience different styles of worship.
THE SECOND PILLAR: PERSONAL GROWTH
One of my love languages, and also one of my wife’s, is quality time. The opportunity to spend more intentional and unencumbered time with Shelby (my wife), and Zoë (my 1-year-old daughter), is something I am most excited about doing during my Sabbatical. I intend to bring both of them with me on one of my planned trips. Shelby will join me on a second one while Zoë stays with her grandparents. I will also be taking one or more weekend getaways with Shelby where we can be fully focused on quality time together.
In addition to quality time with family, I look forward to some quality alone time. It has long been my passion to write and publish a trilogy of science fantasy novels. While I have made significant progress over the last few years, I look forward to time dedicated to completing the trilogy and beginning the process of getting published.
I also intend to use some of my Sabbatical focused on my personal health. A few years ago, it was a priority for me to go for a walk, bike ride, or rollerblade three or four times a week and when the weather was nice, to go on a proper hike at least once a month or so. The woes of the pandemic followed by the birth of my daughter, (though I admit it is no one’s fault but my own) have left me not only out of shape physically, but out of the habit of exercising almost entirely. Similarly to my spiritual disciplines, I intend to use this time to reestablish exercise habits and to focus on my physical health in general.
THE THIRD PILLAR: PROFESSIONAL GROWTH
Finally, I will be taking three separate trips to other cities with the intention of visiting churches that are similar to, or larger than, Schweitzer in size and/or scope. I hope these visits will give me inspiration and direction when I return to work at Schweitzer. With new ideas, experiences, and knowledge, I plan on returning to the teams I lead with a reinvigorated spirit of creativity and leadership.
In addition to the church visits, I have curated a reading list that will also give me inspiration and new direction in my work.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take this Sabbatical. It was not a benefit I expected to receive in my particular field, and I know many well-deserving hard workers who are not blessed with this sort of opportunity. I am proud to work for an organization that recognizes the importance of rest and rejuvenation for its employees. I am very much looking forward to this season and to the reignited passions I hope lie on the other side.
Thank you for your encouragement of the creative ministry and our church.
Taylor serves as the Technical Director at Schweitzer Church. He has a wife, a daughter, two dogs and two cats.