Easter 2023 was a milestone for me. A decade ago, on Holy Saturday, Hermon organised an ordination service in which nine Presbyters laid their hands upon me and set me aside to be a Minister of the Gospel. This past decade has gone by swiftly and very meaningfully. I thank God that He has sustained my ministry thus far and that His church in Hermon has been supportive through gracious acts of forbearance. If I have become a better Minister, it has been because all of you have, in one way or another, shaped me.
With Hermon’s transition to Henderson fully completed, I have been given the privilege to embark on my sabbatical. I thank the Hermon leaders for this gracious leave. My sabbatical is planned over three periods in 2023, each two months in duration (May/June, Aug/Sept, Nov/Dec). The purpose of the sabbatical as stated in our employment terms and conditions is “to allow the staff to replenish resources to maintain his or her effectiveness in service”. So, the aim is that I will be refreshed, renewed and regenerated for the next lap of ministry in Hermon.
May I share the focus of my plan, which has the theme ‘Habitudes for the long haul’. I feel that for God to allow me to continue to contribute to Hermon, I need to become healthier in body, mind and soul. ‘Habitudes’ comes from a combination of the word ‘habits’ and ‘attitudes’ and it’s a word that I’ve learnt from the Boys’ Brigade devotional material. Habits and attitudes mutually reinforce each other and I am seeking to internalise this during the sabbatical.
And so, over the six months of sabbatical, I plan to cover the following:
Body – to develop a routine such that I can achieve a more ideal BMI. As you know, I do love my hawker food and find exercising, well, a pain. But if I desire a long-hauled ministry, I need to be physically healthier. Do pray alongside me for joyful discipline in my food input and physical output.
Mind – the Lord has been impressing upon me that I should be equipping myself in the area of mental health and counselling. And so, I will be going for some short courses with various local organisations. In addition, I have a reading list of books that I hope to cover each month. These books cover topics from Preaching to Pastoral Care, Church Discipleship and Spiritual Maturity. Besides reading them for personal development, I pray that they can be used to also bless our mission partners in the future through teaching sessions. Do pray alongside me for meaningful equipping though the courses and book reading.
Soul – prayer is an area that I find challenging. I remember going for a spiritual retreat and finding that my prayers seemed to just be bouncing back off the ceiling in the room. Yet, we all acknowledge that prayer is the most basic of disciplines, for unless the Lord builds the house, we all labour in vain. Prayer teaches us dependence upon God and helps us to align ourselves to His will. Do pray alongside me that I will be able to build a better foundation for my prayer life. And finally, I will be visiting churches to sit under the preaching of fellow pastors; to be a congregant and just worship God without having to constantly think of the many things that need to run concurrently so that the service goes smoothly.
One sabbatical event that I think will address all three areas of body, mind and soul is my participation in the BPCIS Bible Land Tour in late November. Dawn and I have signed up for it and we will be going with 40 others from Grace, Hebron and Carmel BPC. I am looking forward to the bible coming alive and appreciating her geography.
I do pray that the Lord will enable me to accomplish much of what I have set out to do. But more importantly, that I will be sensitive to His leading during this leave period so that I achieve what He has in store for me.
Once again, I thank the leaders and members for the privilege to be on sabbatical and for your prayer support during it. _Pastor Daniel Tan