Many of you have heard me refer to the story in 1 Samuel 14 when the Israelite army was in a tough battle with their enemies, the Philistines. King Saul had sworn a curse on any soldier who stopped to eat before he was avenged on his enemies. His son, Jonathan, the most valiant of his warriors and the true hero of the story, had not heard his father’s oath. In the middle of chasing the fleeing army, he stopped to eat a little honey that he found in the forest.
When one of the soldiers saw him stop to eat, he told him about his father’s oath. Jonathan’s response was a powerful reminder that rest and refreshment is an important part of progress and victory: “See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey! How much better it would have been if the men had eaten during the day. Would not our victory have been even greater?”
Since 2007 it has been my honor to lead CCHF as its executive director. I truly believe that all of the experiences and training that I have had over the course of my life has been so that I might serve this great community as I have these past 7 plus years. I love our mission. I love the people who make up this nationwide community. And I love my job. I really believe that I am the most blessed man I know to work with people like you.
It is tiring work, and especially challenging for someone like me whose background and training has not been in healthcare, and who is leading during what is likely the greatest season of transition in the history of the American health industry. I try very hard to listen to and watch the clinic leaders around the country, and I think I understand most of the pressures that we face as a community. But I really want to spend some time making sure that I am in touch with the issues and how we can address them in a way that represents and honors Christ.
The first month will be mostly time for decompression, rest and reflection, with some structured, supervised time for spiritual renewal.
During the second month, I will spend time shadowing administrators and clinicians at two CCHF clinics and a residency program to better understand the daily challenges that they face as they seek to live out the gospel through healthcare among the poor.
The last month will be spent in reflection, writing and strategizing how to best align CCHF with God’s purposes for the next 7 years.
I have asked for, and the CCHF Board has graciously granted me a 3-month sabbatical, which will run from mid-May through mid-August. The purpose of the sabbatical is part pastoral and part academic. It will be for both personal and professional development. Here is what I will be doing:
During the entire three months, I will be making my personal health the priority it needs to be, focusing on fitness, weight and diet. I want to be able to approach the next 7 years from a place of physical strength. I am not burned out, nor is my health failing. This is simply a time when I will able to step out of the day-to-day running of CCHF to focus on a few things that tend to get pushed into that narrow space in my life called “free time”.
Who will be running the store? CCHF is privileged to have a Board of Directors and staff that are more than capable of caring for our community, including moving a number of strategic projects forward, during this time. Kristy Tarrant, Sarah Dickert, and all of the CCHF Board members carry the heart of this organization, and will be more than sufficient. Feel free to call them just as you would me, they will be able to provide the help you need or direct resources within our community to assist you.
Please pray for my time this summer. Pray for me to lose weight and get fit enough to run a couple of miles. Pray for God to continue the work he began at the conference in April. Pray for wisdom and insight as I seek to better comprehend how we can be ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom in this new healthcare environment. And pray that God will use this community as a clearer, stronger testimony of Christ’s love, justice, hope and power to our neediest neighbors, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the medical community in our nation.