Sabbatical Part 1: Hitting the Refresh Button
What is a Sabbatical?
“On the seventh day God… rested from all His work.” Genesis 2:2
God didn’t need the rest but He modeled it for us because He knew our body, mind, and spirit would need consistent rest to remain healthy. The Hebrew word for Sabbath means to “close or rest” and is connected with the last day of Creation. A Sabbatical is drawn from the word Sabbath as an extended time of rest and renewal.
In Leviticus 25 the institution of a Sabbath Year was given for fields that were constantly used for planting and gathering crops. Once every seven years, the field was to rest from all planting and harvesting. This allowed the field to regain lost nutrients that were extracted from it year after year. Today, farmers around the world rotate their fields based on this biblical principle. Instead of seeing wilting and diminishing crops from constant use, the rested field produces a bounty of crops that are strong and vibrant once again.
A Sabbatical is not a new concept with scientists, professors, authors, and leaders in the corporate world. These sabbaticals range from 2 months to a year off so people can finish advanced degrees, learn a new skill, or to do something completely different that renews and refreshes their physical, emotional, and mental state so that they return to their profession ready to lead again. More and more churches today are instituting a sabbatical for their pastors for similar reasons.
What is a Ministry Sabbatical?
A ministry sabbatical is a period of time, usually three months, when ministry leaders and congregations set aside the pastors normal responsibilities for the purpose of rest and renewal so they can have sustained excellence in ministry.
A ministry sabbatical is not an extended vacation nor is it an academic sabbatical that involves extensive study. A ministry sabbatical is a release from the routine of constant physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual demands of being a pastor. It’s a time to replenish nutrients in their lives while giving them opportunities to “take in” rather than the stated or unstated expectations of consistently “giving out” to others under their leadership and care.
Why is a Sabbatical Important?
The call to ministry is a high and noble call from God that comes with a high toll on ones emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Over time, this can cause churches to be led by unhealthy pastors who are in a state of burnout or on the precipice of one. A Sabbatical has the potential to help a pastor remain healthy and vibrant for years to come. It’s a win for the pastor and a win the church over the long haul.
A Sabbatical is a great opportunity for a pastor to receive spiritual input into his life whether it is attending a conference, retreat, or soak in the teaching of another pastor for a change. Continual spiritual growth facilitated during periods of rest and renewal is vital toward being a more effective pastor once he returns home. In the big picture, a Sabbatical every seven years is a worthwhile investment in both the pastor and the local church.
What are my plans during my Sabbatical?
We are looking forward to visiting all my six siblings up and down the west coast. Since I am usually quite busy during the holidays, it will be nice to reconnect with them. While in California, Candy and I will be able to attend a one-day church conference and then attend a Pastors & Wives Retreat at Hume Lake Christian Camp.
We will also have an opportunity to visit all three of our girls on the east coast in the state of Virginia. We are fortunate that they all live in the same city of Lynchburg so we get three for the price of one! In October, Candy and I will travel to Rome for the first time and then travel to Israel for the second time. The Bible turns from black and white to color after seeing biblical places first-hand! As a result, it invigorates me when I teach God’s Word. We are so excited for these two trips!
After we return to the States, I’ll have the opportunity to share at some pastoral leadership classes at Liberty University, tour historical sites in Boston and Philadelphia and visit several churches that I regularly listen to on podcasts. Candy and I will be blessed to spend Thanksgiving with our daughters before we fly back home to Washington.
What can I look forward to while I’m gone?
You can look forward to a FANTASTIC FALL with many cool things we have planned for you! You’ll hear God’s word being taught each week by our other pastors as well as four outstanding special speakers we have lined up from around the country. Worship will continue to be amazing and a special series is planned called Necessary Sins. You won’t want to miss this.
In addition, GracePoint Kids will host “Slimed”… an event for K-5th graders, we have a Food Truck Sunday planned on October 1st, an Aspire Women’s Conference on October 28th, a Student Ministries take-over Sunday on November 19, and our annual Christmas lighting event on Sunday night, November 26th! I heard there might even be reindeer coming this year!
You will be well taken care of in my absence. After all, Jesus is the real Senior Pastor of GracePoint Church and He is always present!
Thank you GracePoint for blessing me with this incredible Sabbatical opportunity. I look forward to sharing more when I return and all the other amazing things in store for us at GracePoint in the years ahead!