The Top 5 Takeaways From My Sabbatical

By Matt Dawson


In case there are some people in our church who missed the memo over this past summer, I recently partook in an 9 week Sabbatical and spent my 10th week (transitional week) participating on our Journey GO trip to Peru!

As with most of my content, I struggle to be brief. I would love to have coffee and spend a few hours with each and every one of you to share what an amazing time this sabbatical has been for me (and for my family) but that’s just not possible.

However, at our Partner Night on Thursday August 18th, I will be sharing in more details some specifics from my time away and how I believe it has impacted my heart for the mission and ministry of Journey Church!

Here are the TOP 5 Takeaways from My Sabbatical:

1) I’m Overwhelmed with Gratitude in God’s Plan. Leading Journey Church was never something I had planned to do. The God ordained movements and opportunities that facilitated my leadership here were the last things I expected, but am overwhelmingly grateful for them. I’m so grateful to not only be a part of this Journey family, but to also lead our amazing leaders as we walk towards the future God has for us! I’m still shocked sometimes that He decides to use me and my leadership for His purposes – and I never want to take for granted the call He’s placed on my life.

Romans 8:28  “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

2) It had been a LONG TIME since I had STOPPED. There was a special moment for me during a specific week when I took a solitude retreat up to a lake in Tennessee. Six days of little to no interaction with people was a challenge (as a hyper-extravert, I was not looking forward to it). I went with many specific prayers, tons of ideas, and an agenda that I wanted God to sign off on however, I didn’t get anything that I wanted. What I did get was SO MUCH BETTER. Reading several books, prayer walks, time on the lake in my kayak, and just resting on the back porch was a time where I become completely still. All I could think about was how loved I was by God that He just wanted me to STOP and REST in Him. Psalm 46:10 “Be Still and Know that I am God…” This verse came to life that week like it had never done before.

From my Journal on June 22nd – “Sometimes Rest is Enough…”

3) I LOVE & ENJOY my Family, Friends, and Staff. One of the things that came alive for me was the time I got to spend with my family, my friends, and my staff. You all know that I LOVE my family – but I also REALLY ENJOY the life we are living right now. Doing life with my bride & my kids on a short break from Journey allowed me to see that our lives are complete with God at the center (not the church at the center). I also had time to spend with my friends (some of whom are also on staff). They weren’t allowed to talk about ministry or church with me…but that didn’t matter. My friends and my staff are not simply a means to an end to have a life group or co-workers in ministry. I really do LOVE & ENJOY them because they are amazing people and they love me and my family well. I came away feeling incredibly blessed by God for the many healthy friendships I have in my life!

Never take healthy relationships for granted… they are God ordained and fuel for the soul!

4) There is always MORE to Experience with God. I had the opportunity to spend 8 days traveling to 5 different churches across the US. I can’t believe how encouraging it was to visit with pastors and ministry leaders who are doing some of the same things we are doing or will be doing more of in the future and share EXPERIENCES of how GREAT our GOD REALLY IS! On this trip, I also had the opportunity to see several things for the first time and those experiences were beyond my ability to recount in words at this time. Even when I wasn’t meeting with a church and just driving across a state for the first time – God continued to meet me in those moments and make those experiences SO MUCH MORE.

“In our relationship with God, the further we go… the more Beautiful it gets!” – Scott Worley

5) The FUTURE is BIGGER than we can imagine. During the last 3 weeks of my sabbatical, I began to start seeing answers to some of my prayers that I entered my sabbatical time with. I’ve never had a shortage of ideas for the future of our church and the LKN region, and I love to dream BIG DREAMS. However, the longer these dreams have stayed with me, the more I feel God shaping them into the future of our church. Even when I exhausted all my imagination and felt confirmed that we are on the right track… I kept hearing God say “Matt… it’s even bigger than that!” To be honest, this response from God to these dreams brought momentary feelings of fear and anxiety (it’s natural). However, they quickly changed to excitement, joy, and a passionate fire for the challenges ahead and how we as a church are going to continue “Humbly point Everyone to absolute Hope” over the next 15 years!

When our memories exceed our dreams, the end is near. However, I still believe the BEST is YET TO COME!

There’s so much more to tell you, and I can’t wait to share these moments with you over the next few months as we reconnect. Don’t forget to make plans to be at Partner Night on Thursday, August 18th at 6:30pm where I will share more about my time away and how I feel it’s going to impact our amazing church and bring Hope to LKN.

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