Mike Cope Reflects on Sabbatical

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Something about this quote by Mike Cope about the new addition of a regular sabbatical to his ministry really resonated with me for some reason.

“For 25 years I’ve written, preached, taught, edited, traveled, and blogged. Now I’m going to be silent and listen. I’m going to seek God with all my heart.” – Mike Cope at his blog Preacher Mike.

Coming from someone who has so many good things to say I thought it really said a lot about the importance of rest and listening. Jesus was the ultimate person who had good things to say and even he saw the need for a break from the crowds from time to time. I think this statement says something about Mike Cope’s humility to recognize his need for seeking God and being in tune with what God wants him to hear.

Thanks for such a refreshing statement!

0 Responses

  1. In our culture, we emphasize production. I know that I even often quote Gene Stallings from time to time: “Never confuse activities with accomplishments: results are what count.” The idea of a Sabbatical is certainly counterintuitive to that end. As he quoted a buddy of his in his entry, he’s not having this for the purpose of coming back with pithier sermons. He calls it a gift. How very counter-cultural that is.

    Another cultural value, however, that I question is that there appears to be a sense in which Mike Cope may have “earned” this. He mentioned his 25th year in ministry almost as if he was dropping that in for apologetic purposes. And, as you mentioned, he has been a man with “so many good things to say.” He’s been “producing” for so long that now he gets a period that is just for himself & God — almost as if it was awarded like a badge of honor. Certainly, you don’t just go handing out Sabbatical’s. You would only give them when you know the person will thoroughly cherish them. So, in a sense, you would like someone to prove their quality before giving them a Sabbatical. So that doesn’t particularly bother me as much as it amuses me how we appear to have to tip-toe around our culture’s sensibilities.

    Good for Mike

  2. Philip,

    Those are excellent points. I tend to be optimistic but I doubt this is done as a “reward” but more out of a shared understanding of the need that leaders need their cup filled too. At Northwest they provide a set amount of money to be spent each year at conferences. At another ministry position we almost took they offered a sabbatical from the get go. I think more and more elders are becoming aware of the potential for burnout and the need for regular rest and renewal for their ministers. This should not be done to “increase production” as you say but to genuinely affirm and improve the relationship of the minister with God. The serendipity of it all is that quality will most likely result but it is not the reason.

  3. I’ll agree with your point about more enlightened elders. There is no arguing that, by & large, we ministers have it better (e.g. leadership, compensation, lee-way, etc.) than our ministerial forefathers did. I feel like a softy compared to those trailblazers. I remember Jimmy Allen said that in his first ministry job 50 years ago he made $50 a week. We should always be grateful to be standing on someone else’s shoulders.

    One more thought that just hit me… I wonder how many of us are secretly jealous but won’t admit it. I’ll do it. It just hit me about 10 minutes ago. I just had one of those “You have so much to do today” moments with added outside pressure & in my internal monologue responded, “Mike Cope isn’t being stressed out with unnecessary burdens.” HA! Satan can plant some funny suggestions sometimes…

  4. Matt,
    I took a break from ministry for a year because I was burned out. I was a youth minister who had been runned through the mill and had had enough with church and God. So I took a subatical from everything. When I did come back to my senses. I took tour of churches around Abilene and visited Highland. I got hear Mike preach. He is a very good preacher. I also was allowed at Highland to hear Tim Woodriff also an excellent speaker. Taking a sabatical in a secular perspective and looking from a seeker or a visitor perspective allowed meet to see what I need to preach on as a minister. It allowed me to see the stupidity that the church argues over that would turn off a visitor or an outsider. I wanted something a message that was applicable. Something that I could take with me and help me live better throughout the week. I wanted didn’t want to hear a the greek work of this is that and such. I was like so what….How can this book, the Bible apply to my life. The churches that I attended that non-traditional were exciting and growing. The sabatical did renew me spriritually as my dad’s church in Abilene laid thier hands on me and annointed me to go preac where I am now. I felt renewed during the sabatical in a sense of getting an outsider view of things. I got a view of what I needed to preach and what was going on in churches. Emerging churches were growing leaps and bounds. Being missional. Reaching the lost. I hope Mike gets a sense of what outsiders need. I will be praying for him and his family.

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