My Sabbatical and Vote of Confidence

On November 30, 1994, my family (Lynette, Enoch, Caleb in Lynette’s womb and I) left Watertown, MA to come to Houston and serve as a youth pastor at Seoul Baptist Church. We loaded our belongings into a Budget rental truck while it was snowing, towed a white Honda Accord LX, and drove 1,850 miles in four days and three nights. We made stops to sleep in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Alabama. We arrived in Houston on Saturday, December 3. The church helped us to find an apartment on Jones and West Rd. Several deacons and their wives from the church helped us unload our belongings so we could move in quickly. One deacon took us out for dinner at Seoul Garden that evening.

My ministry as the youth pastor began the next day, Sunday, December 4, 1994. While serving as the youth pastor, I and about 20 post-high school age people began to lay the groundwork for New Life from 1995. After nearly three years, we began New Life on Sunday, August 10, 1997. I continued to serve as the youth pastor until January 1998.

I have been serving at New Life for more than 24 years. We have had some challenging moments, particularly recently with changes in our pastoral staff. Since then, we have added three good staff: Jabez for our youth ministry, Mia for our children’s ministry, and Paul as our Property Manager. I am considering whether New Life should add two more staff, one for pastoral and one for administrative. All around, ministry has been a tremendous joy for me. I am greatly privileged to participate with God to help plant and build New Life over all these years.

Now, I feel that I am due finally for a sabbatical break. Our church policy allows pastoral staff to take different types of sabbaticals every five years. I am planning to take a sabbatical according to New Life’s policy. I am finalizing the details as to what I will be doing during this time. Lynette and I plan to go to Korea for one-week internship at a church that has been doing house church ministry very well. We will also travel through Turkey and Greece to follow the footsteps of Apostle Paul, who carried the Gospel in these regions. I also plan to read extensively, do some soul care, visit other churches to observe and learn, spend some time with family members and, of course, do some fishing. I will share more details about my sabbatical as my plans finalize.

One thing I plan to do before I leave for sabbatical is hold a vote of confidence on my role as senior pastor of New Life. I believe through the Scripture that God usually speaks directly to the senior pastor in regards to the direction and issues that pertain to the church. The senior pastor is called and given by God the serious responsibility of caring for and shepherding over the souls of church members that will last for eternity.

“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17)

God instructs church members to obey their pastor not because he is better than them, but because he will have to stand before God on the final day to settle the account as to how he shepherded his flock. Being a pastor is a serious calling and responsibility.

However, God at times also speaks to pastors through their church members. The vote of confidence will serve this purpose for me in hearing God’s voice. This vote of confidence is not a vote that measures a pastor’s popularity or approval rating. Rather, the purpose is to discern the will of God in regards to whether a pastor should continue to stay and shepherd the flock, or leave and possibly move on to another place of ministry that God has for him. The vote will be taken from New Life’s registered members, at the time of the vote. The vote will present two choices: 1) I believe it is God’s will that Pastors Eric continues to serve as the senior pastor of New Life, or 2) I believe it is God’s will that Pastor Eric stops serving as the senior pastor of New Life.

This vote of confidence will take place on Sunday, March 31 after each worship service. We have about a month to pray and seek God’s will together. I trust that all the members will pray much and fulfill your responsibility as a fully functioning part of the body of Christ here at New Life. Your pastor, Eric

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