How Mandatory Sabbatical Week Saved Kevin & Solidarity.
One wouldn't think that a paid week off of work would be something that people shied away from, but the staff at Solidarity had an unknown identity issue.
The staff was made up of activators. In a world of Marys and Marthas, Solidarity was staffed entirely with Marthas, overly worried about doing things for Jesus. Many of the staff found their identity, value, and worth in what they did or could accomplish.
Doing came easily for the staff. Being with Jesus – following Mary’s lead and sitting at His feet – was a value the staff needed to learn. Sabbatical week was necessary for Solidarity as a whole, but it changed Kevin Mo-Wong’s life.
Kevin co-founded Solidarity in 2002 and for the first few years of the nonprofit’s existence everyone worked side jobs while volunteering in the Garnet neighborhood. It wasn’t uncommon to have the “staff” work two or three jobs and still make time to run Garnet ASP.
Everyone was in their early 20s, had seemingly endless energy, and were activators by nature.
Yet, everyone has their limits. The wear and tear on Kevin wasn’t noticeable, at first. It was easy for him to bounce between two jobs and still come to ASP with a smile on his face. Internally, self-righteousness, bitterness, and pride were slowing and silently bubbling up.
Kev thought that rest was for the lazy.
The Kingdom needed workers, the harvest was ripe, he had to keep grinding.
He believed that the students “needed” Kevin to be available. The truth was, Kevin needed to be “needed.”
A good friend and local pastor, Jason Phillips (Sojourners Community Church), noticed that Solidarity was great at missional engagement but lacked other facets of their spiritual walk. He volunteered to host Wednesday Night Spiritual Formation once a week.
One night, Jason administered a burnout assessment. To the staff’s surprise, 90% of everyone in the room was in burnout or on the verge of burnout.
Kevin was shocked; burnout never crossed his mind. As Jason walked the staff through the results of the assessment, Kevin could not deny the truth.
Over the next year, Jason shared different spiritual disciplines, prayers, and formation that reprioritized the value of being in the presence of God. Not realizing how dry his sponge actually was, Kevin soaked up every practice Jason recommended.
The Solidarity team realized that the end goal of all of their work in the Garnet neighborhood required a shift from simply engaging the neighborhood to abiding with Jesus.
In 2007, the leadership at Solidarity implemented Sabbatical Week, a paid week off of work to force the staff to focus on being with Jesus. This was initially met with opposition as the staff worried about the work that still needed to be completed. As the years passed, the staff started to truly experience the presence of God on Sabbatical Week, and the culture shifted at Solidarity.
The main thing at Solidarity became abiding with Jesus.
The week of Aug 1st, all email vacation responders will be turned on, program doors will be closed, and the Solidarity staff will find creative ways to be in deep relationship with Jesus.
This small switch, valuing BEING with Jesus, over doing things for Jesus, saved Solidarity. It is a constant battle to keep abiding with God as the main value, but that singular focus is what allows resilience in Kingdom work. This focus is how the Church can transform their city. And this focus is what allowed Kevin to experience life-giving ministry.