I had the opportunity to spend the last four weeks experiencing a study leave. It wasn’t a vacation, but it allowed me the chance to break my normal rhythms and get away to think deeply and enjoy a time of allowing Jesus to recharge my batteries. I spent a few nights away by myself, read 19 books, prepared for the upcoming year at our church, and reflected a ton in the space this created.
I desire to be the type of pastor that Stanley Hauerwas describes when he says: “The faithful pastor keeps calling us back to God. In so doing, the pastor opens our imagination as a church, exposes us to a wider array of possibilities than we could have thought possible on our own.” A regular routine of rest is crucial to experiencing this.
In case you could use a little recharging yourself (and that’s all of us), here are five tools that proved beneficial for me this month:
- I struggle to listen to podcasts when there are audiobooks available, but I came across a podcast called The Listener that posts the best episodes from other people’s podcasts. Essentially, you get to subscribe to one podcast and hear some of the best ideas of a plethora of podcasts that you have likely never even heard of before. It’s a great way to expose yourself to new ideas.
- I can’t stop thinking about the premise of the book Empty Planet by Darrell Bricker. Basically, in about thirty years our planet will reach peak population and then decrease indefinitely from that point on. It sounds crazy until you consider Bricker’s arguments for why he predicts this will happen. This has profound implications for the next few decades and the decisions we make. It also provides a sobering perspective on life.
- The song “Everything and Nothing Less” by Jesus Culture has become my new anthem. It feels life-giving for my soul. This might be the result of the fact that I’m an 8 on the Enneagram and that me repeating the line “I surrender all” is good for me and Jesus. I can’t remember another song I’ve played on repeat as I have with this.
- I’ve rekindled my love for an app called the Hanx Writer. It turns my iPad into a digital typewriter. This is surprisingly fun to use and is the closest I get to keeping a journal. It’s helpful to mash away on this as I reflect on things I’m learning. It’s been about two years since I had last used it and I found it helpful to read through previous things I’ve written and to get back into it.
- A weird tidbit about me is that I love stress-reliever toys. I often hijack ones that my kids come home with but I recently bought a few different kinds to try out. I’ve been enjoying the Isoflex Hand Therapy and Excercise Ball and grateful that the name implies an adult should feel total normal using it (that’s how you read it too, right?). Particularly helpful if you plan on sitting quietly for extended periods of time.
You don’t need an extended study leave to benefit from any of these five and I hope they might be able to offer you some of the benefits I’ve experienced from each of them.
I’m beyond pumped to preach our Thursday service tonight, and I feel that these next few series will be pivotal for the future of our church. I’d encourage you to join us if you live in the Pacific Northwest or stay connected through our YouTube channel.