In his book Upstream, Dan Heath explores how to solve problems before they happen. Basically, when you are upstream you have different—better—options than you do downstream. Downstream you are forced to react to situations, whereas upstream you can anticipate and, in some cases, mitigate problems.
Many organizations have “home assignment” or “furlough” policies. About a year ago at Global Trellis I asked the question, what would an upstream approach to home assignments, furloughs, or sabbaticals look like? Is an upstream approach possible for a sabbatical? Or a life in ministry? It is.
However, according to Heath, three barriers can get in the way of an upstream approach:
1. Problem Blindness — is the belief that negative outcomes are normal or inevitable. Phrases like “that’s just how it is” or to put a Christian spin on it, “that’s part of the call.” While it’s true that there is a cost to the call, too often we play that card without really thinking through if it is a cost or a result of problem blindness.
Sabbaticals are only for pastors or professors.
Home assignments aren’t really restful.
What a waste of my supporters’ money! I should be on the field.
2. A Lack of Ownership — occurs because many individuals or organizations are too overwhelmed or under resourced to move upstream. At Global Trellis, we want to be part of the solution and have pledged to be part of preparing you to function upstream when you can.
My organization doesn’t have a plan for my home assignment, they just said I have to take one.
Sabbaticals are only for research, so this doesn’t apply to me.
What will supporters think of me? What will I tell them I’m doing?
3. Tunneling — occurs when people are juggling a lot of problems, they give up trying to solve them all and adopt tunnel vision. A clue that you’re tunneling is when you feel a sense of scarcity. You might feel that you don’t have enough time, money, supporters, teammates, options, or even favor from God. Tunneling forces you into short-term thinking. As Dan Heath said, “In the tunnel, there’s only forward.”
You have no idea how many churches and supporters I need to visit.
I already feel strapped for time! I cannot add a course to guide me through my sabbatical on top of it all.
I have a whole year . . . what’s the rush?
The Sabbatical Journey Course was created with these three barriers in mind and is available twice a year. The doors to the course will open on September 9, 2021 and you can notified when the Sabbatical Journey Course is available here.
While we might experience problem blindness, God never does. God will use the time you have for your home assignment, furlough, or sabbatical. He sees you, and loves you.