I am glad to be back at Grace Redeemer after a three week absence. I am returning from my one week study leave, followed by a two week vacation with my family. The extended time away has allowed me to return to church refreshed in body, mind and soul. The privilege and benefit of a study leave permit me intentional time to pray, to plan, and to self-equip (i.e., reading, studying, researching material that pertains to that leader’s ministry responsibilities).
I thought it might be helpful to share a message from prior years about how I spend my study leave and how you can support this time and me through prayer!
As some of you know, each summer I get away for one of my study leave weeks. It used to be my mom’s cabin in the Poconos, but now it’s a combination of unique offers from friends to use a place within a few hours’ drive. Despite time away from family, it’s one of the highlights of my year. I have minimal interaction with the outside world (increasingly difficult with a cell signal and a smartphone!), no house projects to worry about and usually, the beauty of creation surrounding me! I bring my Bible, computer, and a big stack of books. And I read, pray, read some more, think through the future of GRC, apply the Gospel to my heart, renew dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit to enable everything I am and everything I do, and I come back refreshed for family life and for ministry.
Would you pray for me as I retreat and spend time feeding my soul, and seeking the Lord’s will for GRC? [It’s not too late, even though I took this summer’s study leave already!]. Check out this article I came across, “How to Pray for Your Pastor“. If you put this on your fridge and use it, I KNOW it will have a tremendous impact on the advancement of God’s Kingdom!
Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” The word for ‘prophetic vision’ is often associated with the revelation God provided to the prophets. But in the Wisdom literature (which includes Proverbs), it can also have a more general meaning, a sense of direction. Clearly, we have no direction for life, for ministry, for anything, without God’s revelation of Himself and ultimate reality concerning sin, eternity, salvation. That’s a foundational assumption when it comes to having ‘vision’ as a church. But there’s a next-level sense of vision that requires us to constantly be seeking out what the Lord would have choose or prioritize. To use biblical imagery, a shepherd knows the land. He avoids the cliffs, the barren country, and the highways of the big, bad wolves. He looks for water sources in a dry land. And he guides accordingly. That’s my job as the ‘lead shepherd’, and the responsibility of the Session. My annual study leave is a week to put aside the tending of everyday business, and in a sense, to climb the highest tree, and have a look-see. What’s on the horizon? What opportunities await our attention and resources? What pitfalls might be in our way? I anticipate, as usual, coming back freshly excited about the future of our church, about what I see God doing, and what I anticipate him doing.
Another prayer request: that as I take in my perspective from atop the trees, that what is ‘of man’ would be tossed aside, and that what is ‘of God and His Spirit’ would be seen and pursued as the path forward for GRC. To paraphrase Proverbs 29:18, if we don’t discern what the Lord’s most excellent will is, we’ll go off in the wrong direction. But if we see what He’s up to, and join him, then we’ll be most blessed!
Grace to you,
Peter Wang has been Senior Past or of GRC for over 13 years. He’s married to Cedar and has three kids: Matthew, Kaylyn and Mitchell.