Pastor Ryan Aufenkamp’s Sabbatical
In short, my sabbatical was stellar. I am so deeply grateful to you, church, for allowing me the time off to rest and recenter with my family. I’m coming back into the Fall feeling rejuvenated and freshly excited about all of the ministry that lies ahead. Below is a brief synopsis of how the Lord was working in my life over the Summer.
A Deeper Connection to My Family
My ultimate goal for sabbatical was simply to invest in my family. Over the past four years, Emily has invested in me immensely by affording me the time to pursue my seminarial studies. Days off were, for the large part, given to reading theology and writing papers. Thus, sabbatical gave me a significant amount of time to simply do life with my family. We took a couple of vacations – full of messy ice cream trips and beautiful sunsets – but the biggest blessing was slowing down to notice and savor all the small moments of life as a family: eating dinner together, playing games in the living room, and doing bedtime together every night. I’m coming away from these past two months feeling more aware of the needs of my family, and far more connected to Emily and my girls.
A Clearer Vision of My Own Shortcomings
Two months off from all of my normal routines also gave me a lot of time to ponder my own heart. Aside from spending a lot of time with Emily and the girls, I worked on quite a few home projects, resulting in getting frustrated and impatient far more times than I’d like to admit. Whether it was because of interruptions to my plans, my own lack of skill and knowledge, or my third trip back to the hardware store – I got a really good taste of my sin-sick heart (and so did everyone else in my family). After two months off, I feel that I’m coming back into ministry with a clearer vision of the sin in my life and in my heart that I need to put to death. Quite honestly, I’m more selfish, impatient, and covetous than I think I am, and I realized this Summer that a break can be good for the simple fact that it reveals things that would otherwise go unnoticed or is easily swept under the rug of ‘busyness.’
A Rejuvenated Love for the Church
One of the things that I got to do during my time off was attend other churches in the area for their weekend gatherings. I was excited to go and hear the Word exegeted and preached, and to sing with other believers, each with their own stories of God’s faithfulness and filling in their lives. It was a sobering thing over the Summer to step into these other congregations and have my eyes further opened to the reality of how God is at work in His church. And while I was freshly enamored with God’s goodness to different congregations within our community, it also made me long for my “home.” I am coming back from the Summer freshly appreciating the nuances that make up Evergreen Bible Church. And especially appreciating the people – my people.
Much more could be said about my sabbatical. There were many golden moments and productive days – contrasted with some early morning wake-ups, and toddler tantrums (myself included😉). All in all, this sabbatical was a massive blessing that I will be lastingly grateful for!
In love and in Christ,
Pastor Ryan Aufenkamp