What's A Study Break?

Buy truth, and do not sell it;

buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

Proverbs 23:23 ESV

Thank you Lord for Proverbs 23:23. It is the bibliophile's blank check. Admonition to learn and permission to spend a few coins to do so -- all bound up in a single verse. I love it.

Shannan and I are currently in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, for a study break. This extended time of refueling comes compliments of a generous church -- which allows me the time, and generous friends -- who make available their place. We have circled and saved these dates each July for the the last three years. This time is without parallel in our year -- at the same time incredibly productive and amazingly restorative.

You may be wondering, "So what's a study break?" Great question!

A study break is an opportunity for extended time of reading and reflection, thinking and writing, praying and planning (at least that is what it is for me). Here is some of what I am reading, and why:

I have spent a considerable amount of time with Keller and Sherman. They are helping me to wrestle with what it means to be a good steward of this "one and only life" that God has given me. Looking beyond the scope of my time, talents, treasure, and task, they are helping me re-think what it looks like for our church to be fully engaged with Jesus on his mission through our vocations. Keller and Sherman are sending me to the doors of others:

On the personal front, I am grappling with the best way to steward my time and focus my energies. Shannan and I have been a part of Spanish River Church for more than seven years. For the last five, I have had the privilege of serving as Senior Pastor. It is a unique role. I want to maximize it. Two people who are helping me are Will Mancini and Henry Cloud. I began reading their books (see below) not too long ago. Next week I will be re-visiting them in an effort to help me learn how to be more effective and a better steward of my role at SRC:

Those of you who read my blogs know that I have a fascination with history, especially the lives of American presidents. On the global scene, I am enamored with Winston Churchill. Knowing that will help explain why I am working to complete these two works while we are here:

I learn a great deal about the leader's life and work as I tag along with these giants of the past. Writing about what I am learning helps me to process my thoughts and share the lessons and applications with others. Here are two leadership posts that have emerged from reading The Bully Pulpit and The Gathering Storm:

  1. "The Important Work of Remembering"
  2. The "Bad Guy" Every Leader Should Know

Spanish River provides me a generous book allowance. I am very grateful for it and use every penny of it. I think I am better for time spent "in the books" and believe the Lord uses the investment to encourage his people as well.

A study break is not all study. All work and no play does make Jack a dull boy. To change the pace, Shannan and I enjoy late afternoon walks together, enjoying the countryside or doing a little window-shopping in nearby Waynesville. We enjoy freer Saturdays and Sundays and, in general, a much less hurried pace.

On our drives we are enjoying Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. In case you are wondering, we are listening to book 3, Mockingjay. I am amazed at Collins' power of imagination and her ability to create a world and craft words to weave a story that keeps us on the edge of our seats. I am also a few chapters into A Life On The Road by Charles Kuralt. Unfortunately, I have only given scant attention to the Hot Rod magazines I brought with me. I am hoping that will change.

While that is not the complete picture of our time away, hopefully it gives you some picture of a study break and how we are stewarding these wonderful days. Thanks for reading and thanks for caring. Here is how you can pray for us:

  1. One of the projects I am working on here is the big picture calendar of messages for 2014-15. As I get clarity here, it helps the rest of the staff to better utilize their time.
  2. None of us can do everything, but we all can and must do something. As I mentioned above, I need wisdom for maximizing the role the Lord has given me at SRC, specifically best utilizing my time to love, lead, serve, and shepherd.
  3. My eyes have always been bigger than my stomach -- this applies to times away like these. Lord willing, we will be back home the end of next week and I'll be with you on Sunday, August 3. There is much to do while I am here, but I can't do everything. Pray for wisdom in discerning the "most important" of all the important things on my "To Do List."

Apply your heart to instructionand your ear to words of knowledge.

Proverbs 23:12