Rest, Reconnect, Retool: The importance of sabbaticals
Meredith McKinney recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary of moving to Scotland to work with Roots, a CMF Globalscope campus ministry in Edinburgh. She also recently returned from a sabbatical during which she went and visited old friends Travis and Emily Weeks, who are CMF missionaries with Church Catalyst in Ethiopia. Here, Meredith shares some thoughts on why it’s important to take sabbaticals, and how the way ministries look can differ greatly between locations, but some things stay consistent no matter where you are.
How was your sabbatical, and what do you see as being the value of missionaries taking a sabbatical?
Lately, when people ask me "how was your sabbatical?", my answer is that it was a really good decision for my life and ministry. I use the words "Rest, Reconnect, and Retool" to guide what I do on a sabbatical and why (a CMF colleague once suggested those very helpful framing words to me). Though I did plenty of Reconnecting and Retooling, this sabbatical was more heavily Rest-focused than my previous one was. That's what I needed this time around! And I'm so glad that I did it. I came back to Roots in January in a much healthier spot emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically because I took a sabbatical.
Sabbaticals, or furloughs as many folks call them, are incredibly important for missionaries' health and ability to keep doing the ministry work God has called us to do. Going back to those three words I use - Rest, Reconnect, and Retool - a sabbatical gives a missionary the chance to actually focus on those things instead of adding them on top of ministry priorities.
The answers to those questions are going to be different for each person, and are going to shape one person's sabbatical slightly differently than another's. Of course, sometimes there are practicalities that need to be taken into account - a child transitioning to university, an aging parent's health needs, or perhaps a sudden lack of financial funding. But even those types of needs can fit easily into the Rest, Reconnect, Retool framework of sabbaticals.
The work we do is fulfilling and important to us. We care deeply about our teams, the countries and cities where we live, the populations whom we serve, and we want to be healthy enough to continue doing our work as long as possible. Part of what helps us do that is taking sabbaticals.
As someone who works in campus ministry in Scotland, what stood out to you as being similar or different between how ministry looks in your context vs how it looks for the Weeks in Ethiopia? Is there anything that seems to stay consistent in ministry no matter where you are in the world?
It's been 10 years now that I've been living in Edinburgh and working in campus ministry here. And I love it, which is why I'm still here. But I also know how easy it is to not realize you've gotten into an echo chamber in the places where you live and work, especially the longer you're there.
Most of my ministry exposure at this point are other Globalscopes around the world, local churches here in Edinburgh, and the churches that partner with me. Having served with CMF's Marketplace Ministries for a year before I started serving with Globalscope, I have a particular understanding of how simultaneously similar and different CMF ministries can look. That's why I wanted to visit the Weeks family- to see some of their ministry work in Ethiopia as part of my sabbatical. (Plus, I wanted to visit my friends and see what their lives look like in this place I'd never visited before.)
A couple of differences I observed: I work almost exclusively with university students who come from all over the world while the Weeks' ministry spans all age ranges of mostly folks from Ethiopia. I'm working in my native language of English while they've learned two languages to do ministry in Ethiopia.
A couple of similarities I observed: Both of our ministries place a high value on identifying leaders in our respective communities, encouraging them, and equipping them for leadership. Our ministries are all about building relationships!
I'm so thankful to have friends who serve in different ministries so I can visit them and learn from the work they're doing in such a different cultural context than the one I work in.
Partner with Meredith and Roots in ongoing ministry with university students in Edinburgh here.
campus ministry, Edinburgh, Ethiopia, furlough, intercultural ministry, international ministry, Meredith McKinney, ministry, reconnect, rest, retool, Roots, sabbatical, Scotland, Travis and Emily Weeks