This is the first in a special series on taking renewal leave by guest blogger Rev. Dianne Lawhorn.
Often in our ministry, after years of service, we find ourselves in need of being recharged. Current statistics say that most of us will experience ministry fatigue at some point in our journey. We shouldn’t feel guilty about taking the time we need because all of us will need a break eventually. Recognizing the need for a break is actually a sign of health. Taking a break allows us to be renewed for the journey.
Thankfully, the Methodist Book of Discipline recognizes the need for this time and provides for it in the form of a renewal leave. I took this time of renewal back in 2012 and found that it gave me a renewed sense of vitality and purpose in ministry. I needed some guidance, however, in order to discern how to structure the time of my leave so that I could receive the greatest benefits from it. I wondered if you might find yourself in this place and might like some tips for shaping this time.
A renewal leave is a time where we really need to give ourselves a break! For most of us, our tendency to over-schedule and over-commit has led us to the need of a break in the first place. So, we don’t want to bring this pattern into our leave time. For this reason, I devoted the first and last part of my own leave to rest. It was great for me to spend that time simply being still, with stillness as my only task or accomplishment for those days.
A renewal leave is the perfect time for you to get out of your environment, especially if you live in a parsonage. You might go to a place that you have enjoyed before, where you can connect with God and with yourself. You might want to spend a few days in the mountains, at the beach, or at a local retreat center, where you can spend some time alone in a peaceful environment that nurtures your soul.
If you are married, this is also a great time for you to connect with your spouse. During my renewal leave, my husband also took time away from his job so that he could share in my experience. We felt grateful to have that unstructured time together as a couple in a place that we both love!
This could also be a time to connect with family and friends. Maybe you could go to see a family member or friend that you would like to connect with whom you haven’t seen in years. Shared experiences with people who are important to us can certainly contribute to our well-being, which should be a goal of our renewal time. Sharing this experience with others can truly give us strength for our journey.
In next week’s post, I’ll offer some reflection activities and questions that might be helpful to consider for your renewal leave.