When I think of “sabbatical” I of sitting on a beach watching the sun set. Strolling on the shore. Intentionally breathing. Relaxing.
While some sabbaticals are like that, mine certainly has not been. At times I think I’ve read more in the last 1 year than I have in the previous 7 years! (However, I’m not complaining. This year has been a great break from full-time vocational ministry and a chance to reflect and learn. I am greatly indebted and thankful to those who made this possible.)
But despite all the academic rigors of the last year, I think full-time ministry is still more difficult than being a full-time student.
Academia potentially offers the student a shield from the source of life’s deepest hurts: people. That is, by immersing one’s self into studying and avoiding messy relationships, one may have a relatively secure and predictive life.
The formula is straight-forward:
You study + You do well = You are happy.
Ministry involves people and is messy. I know there will be times that I wish I could “just” write a paper instead of journeying alongside a hurting family or “just” memorize 100 Hebrew words rather than play phone tag with a retreat site.
So why would anyone leave academia? Why not be a life-long student?
Aside from logi$tical con$ideration$, I think my advisor said it well. He did his doctoral work part-time while being involved in a church and with his family. Why?
“Because you can love your dissertation, but your dissertation can’t love you back.”