Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Reflections from my ‘semi-sabbatical’

I wonder how 2015 has unfolded for you, either as a writer or in general. Has everything turned out as you expected? Has it been a fulfilling year or has it contained some disappointments? Has the writing project you have been putting your heart and soul into taken shape well? Or do you feel you have barely done anything and here it is, almost Christmas again?

I gave myself a ‘semi-sabbatical’ this year because I knew that was what I had to do. I have taken on fewer speaking engagements and book events than normal. And, having completed my second non-fiction book in January, I decided to hold off on any serious work on my planned seventh novel for a while. I have kept up my own weekly blog and have also helped several other authors by editing or reviewing or endorsing their books. But it has been a vastly different year for me during which God taught me many valuable lessons.

I have seen again, for example, that I need to approach my writing and speaking—or anything else I do—with a thankful heart, remembering that any gifts and abilities I have are from God. My role is to receive them with an open heart, develop them as best I can and use them to bless others as God leads and empowers. It is a privilege to be able to enjoy doing this and I need to guard against becoming too proud of anything I achieve or too self-reliant in it all. Yes, I must work hard in my writing and at speaking and promotion. But I need to steer clear of any sense of entitlement—it is all gift.

I have also become even more convinced I need to write what God has gifted and equipped and inspired me to write, irrespective of what others might produce. Yes, I need to do my marketing homework, as does any potential publisher of my work. But in the end, if I cannot believe with all my heart in what I have written and if I have not sensed the hand of God in it all, then it may count for very little in the long run. Likewise with my speaking. If I cannot speak with integrity and conviction on a topic, whether overtly Christian or more general, then I think I need to close my mouth.

This year too, God has impressed on me how important it is to help and encourage others, not only with their writing projects, but in life in general. Yes, this takes time, but what a privilege to see God at work in and through someone else’s life and to be part of enabling them to achieve their God-given dreams! Others have done this for me and I need to pass that on, as I am able.

It might not be the right time for you in your writing journey or in general for a sabbatical in any shape or form. But I hope you can find those quiet moments at least somewhere in your busy life to be refreshed in your spirit and to reflect with God on your future direction. Perhaps some of you would like to share how you manage to do this, so all of us can benefit.


Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for such a refreshing post. I take great courage in knowing that I need to follow God's promptings for my writing journey.

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    1. Thanks for such a positive response--I'm glad you found the post refreshing. I know my writing journey has been so fulfilling and interesting as I have followed God's promptings along the way.

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  2. Thanks for sharing that Jo-Anne. It's a great reminder that we all need to find time and ways to be refreshed and listen to God. I pray the coming year will be truly a blessed one for you.

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    1. Thanks so much, Carol. And yes, I'm looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me in 2016. I did get a bit ragged with so much writing and speaking over quite a few years now, so it has been good to step back and reflect and be reminded to rest in God and receive everything with gratitude.

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  3. Hi Jo-Anne, thanks for this encouraging post. I have another friend who has done likewise, she sensed the Lord wanted her to let go of her writing for a season, so she did. How true your words are that we need to continue to seek to be filled by the Lord and allow Him to guide us.

    Wishing you all the very best for the next year.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ian--I'm glad you were encouraged. I hope your friend has found great refreshing and comfort during her 'sabbatical' as well. I ignored God's call to take one for a year, I hate to say, and ended up quite exhausted, but finally I listened!

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  4. Thank you for the timely reminder. It's easy to get caught up in the "do" and forget the "be".

    I know your speaking at the recent Christian Writer's Conference was a blessing, because one of the ladies who attended told me how wonderful it was. You were a great encouragement to her.

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    1. Thanks so much for your feedback from the conference, Iola. That is very encouraging to me to know someone else was so blessed through my input--it is just what I hoped would happen!

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  5. Thanks for your post, Jo. A whole year seems such a long time to step back. Yet if God leads you to do something like this then time means very little, especially to Him. And feeling we must be busy busy busy doing this that and everything else, you will have accomplished more and learned more in listening to the Lord's prompting.

    So, 2016 awaits you!

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    1. Yes, a year is a long time, Rita, butt also so brief! The months seem to have flown for me--and here we are in November already. But, as you say, a year to God is just a little 'blip' really, in the big scheme of things! I hope I have learnt more this past year, even if I feel I haven't accomplished much, but I'm glad I had the break.

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  6. Valuable lessons Jo-Anne thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. They are such obvious lessons really, I think, but ones we can lose sight of in the midst of all our struggles and striving.

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  7. Thanks so much, Jo-Anne. I find my heart yearning for one of those sabbaticals :)

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    1. That's good, Sue, because then you will be so ready when God gives you one and not so reluctant to hear his voice and be obedient, as I was! As I said in a comment above, it took me a year to give in, by which time I was quite exhausted. But God never gives up on us and I'm so thankful I can simply rest in his love, whether speaking or not speaking, writing or not writing. May God refresh you right now just where you're at, Sue.

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