You and I were created for a singular purpose. It has been summarized in various ways throughout history, but the Westminster catechism gives succinct clarity when it says the purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever! Everything I do is directed at that one magnificent and glorious goal. In my coming and my going, in my repentance and in my praise, in my working and in my resting, I long to offer it all as worship and enjoy the beauty, truth, mercy, and goodness of our God.
Most of us have no issue understanding how to glorify God in our activity. We live in a culture that places great value on productivity. Our identities are so closely tied to our occupations that normal introductions follow a two question pattern: Who are you? and What do you do? But our God places great value in our resting as well. In fact, He both commanded it (Ex. 20:8) and He demonstrated it. (Ex. 31:17) God has built us in such a way that we grow in holiness both as we labor and as we rest in the Lord.
North Wake has always been a church that cares well for our pastors. Our sabbatical policy is a perfect example. After the first seven years of full-time employment we offer a three-month sabbatical and then every five years following. We offer this because the spiritual health of our church is directly tied to the spiritual health of our leaders. If God rested from His work on the seventh day and commanded Israel to honor Him by resting on the Sabbath, and if Jesus’ invitation to us is to come to Him to find rest (Matt. 11:28), then these commands are for our good.
I believe this policy also has direct correlation with the tenure of our pastors. The average length of a pastorate is 6 years according to a 2017 survey. Among the five pastors on North Wake’s staff there is a total of 97 years of pastoral experience AT NORTH WAKE with the average tenure of 19.5 years!! That’s incredible Most people would hear those statistics and think we were a country church, stagnant and set in our ways. But God has used North Wake to raise up church planters and pastors, chaplains and missionaries, professors and deans, faithful moms and dads. Our church has planted seven churches in the past 12 years and we are the second largest missionary sending church in the entire Southern Baptist Convention! We continue to write songs that are sung in churches around the world! Perhaps God is accomplishing more than we know in both our laboring and in our resting.
So as I begin my sabbatical I would like to encourage you with ways I anticipate God is planning to bless both me and you during these next three months, and ask that you continue in prayer for me as I continue in prayer for you.
First, you and I will both be blessed through the leadership of brothers and sisters in Christ who will be laboring in my place. Joe Kranz, Brad Lang, Greg Wilson, and Carson Cobb will be leading our church in praise and worship while I’m resting. These brothers are such a blessing to our church. Be praying for them! Also, Jett Wrenn, Mary Katherine Lassetter, Mark Lindsey, and Liz Williams will be curating and writing our Meditation for Preparation. This is a short devotional that involves reading the passage that we will be studying together on Sunday morning and preparing our hearts for worship prior to Sunday morning. It’s a way of “priming the pump”! If you aren’t already in the habit of reading it every week before Sunday morning, be sure to look for a link to it in the “This Sunday at North Wake” email.
Secondly, I anticipate my personal time of soaking in the love and goodness of God to pour out into your lives when I return. It is inevitable. If you spend time with Jesus, you change and it effects those around you. Pray for me as I am planning to drink deep of the love of God through times of personal study and solitude. There are two areas I am focusing on: Stewardship & Patience. I’d covet your prayers as I hope to grow in both of these virtues.
I’m also looking forward to the opportunity my sabbatical gives me to visit other churches. It is helpful to hear and see what other faithful sister churches are doing in their services. God has made each church different. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses and we learn so much from each other. As Paul would say, the hand can’t say to the foot that it has no need of it. I hope to learn and be an encouragement to them.
Finally, I am disqualified as an elder if I am not loving my family well. A good portion of my sabbatical is devoted to spending time with each of them. We will be traveling to the west coast and visiting several national parks together, going to a baseball game or two, moving my oldest son into college, and taking a trip to the beach. Pray that I would love them well, model the patient love of Christ to them, and serve them as well as they have served me.
Thank you church for this gift! Thank God for His kindness in giving us ultimate rest in Christ alone! (Hebrews 4:9)
by Daniel Creswell