The following is a direct excerpt from the October Newsletter, however, I’ve decided I’d also like to publish it directly to the Pastor’s Blog:
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his work as God did from his. Let us, therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11, ESV)
From August 29th through September 25th, my wife Linsey, my son Beckett, and I received an incredible gift. By the approval of the Conference Cabinet, the awareness of Watsontown UMC’s Pastor-Staff Parish Relations Committee (P/SPRC), and the diligent commitment of leaders within our church, I received the gift of paternity leave. Culturally in the U.S. paternity leave is still stigmatized. While 89% of men agree that employers should offer paid paternity leave, only 9% of American companies offer paid leave to fathers; moreover, fathers—for various reasons—typically only take one day off to bond with newborn children for every MONTH that a mother takes in leave (statistics from theBump.com). I mentioned these numbers primarily out of gratitude for the opportunity, so willingly offered, to bond with my son Beckett over the last four weeks.
How has leave blessed our family? My wife and I have had the opportunity to spend more time together in September than we have in most other months of our nearly two years of marriage; through quality time and conversation we’ve been able to live into the Scriptural prescription to love, respect, and submit to each other (Ephesians 5:33). We’ve blessed God for the chance to watch Beckett grow. We’ve seen his smiles, heard his laughs, and have begun to set routines and foundations for healthy, godly family life. What can we say but that we dearly, dearly love this person whom God was forming even before July 12, 2016 (Jeremiah 1:5). Finally, we have also had time to rest. Leave has been for me a Sabbath, a time to renew and recharge in the love and grace of God. The Lord wills a rest for us who are in Christ (Hebrews 4:9), and we all do well to seeks moments to renew our souls on a regular basis.
If you have been following Christian news circuits you may have heard of two megachurch pastors (Pete Wilson of Cross Point Church and Perry Noble of NewSpring) who recently resigned their posts due to burnout. As a pastor I empathize with their professional struggles, yet I know, too, that everyone struggles with exhaustion and overwork. For some reason, our culture has made coffee, late nights, and overtime badges of honor rather than family time, work-life balance, and meaningful leisure. The writer of Hebrews provides a stark reminder that rest is a godly thing! Time away is God-honoring! And if we want to call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ, if we want to follow in his footsteps, maybe many of us need to rethink our calendars and schedule more Sabbath and less “Sorry-Honey-I’m-going-back-to-the-office.” I mean literally. Go home, get out the pen, and write in “REST.”
So once again, Linsey, Beckett and I are grateful to God and to you all for the gift of leave and Sabbath. We believe our family is closer, more loving, and stronger because of the time we had together. We are also so very excited for you to meet the little guy! The family of God is made up of all kinds: old, young, big, small, male, female, all different colors. Praise God for new life and all of the great spiritual blessings that God showers on us every single day (Ephesians 1:3).