Posted: June 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

Sabbatical – from the Greek (sabbatikos), Hebrew (Sabbat) = basically a rest.  God told the children of Israel to let the land rest every seven years for one year.  The Sabbath, is to rest.  In the educational world a professor can take a year sabbatical every seven years for further study in their field.  So a sabbatical is a rest, but not just a rest for rests sake.  It is a rest from normal daily activity to focus on further study to be better prepared to teach and lead in the future.

A pastoral Sabbatical is for rest from daily activities creating time to draw aside for study, prayer, get clear vision and be better prepared for the next phase of ministry.  Some may not understand a pastor taking a sabbatical, probably because they think a pastors job is to preach on Sunday and be at the hospital when babies are born and do funerals.  Honestly, the larger the church the more complex a pastors responsibilities become.  Pastoral duties reach and scope go far beyond Sundays.  They are on call 24/7, give leadership to every phase of ministry, have many administrative responsibilities and then be ready to counsel when someone needs help.  Some of these task are very emotional and draining.  A pastor has to take on the roles of Prophet, Priest and King to lead a congregation, which translates into the roles of teacher, leader and caregiver.  Few jobs require the many roles a pastor must perform, therefore the stress can be enormous on these servants.  All of this plus living in a fish bowl carries a heavy toll for ministers and their families.

At riverwoods we are writing into our policies a mandatory yearly sabbatical for our pastors and assistants with length based upon time served and experience.  They will start with two weeks and increase an additional week each year until they reach 5 weeks (preferably taken during the summer).  We feel this is healthy for the leaders and the church.  So, pray for our leaders when they are on sabbatical that God will renew, strengthen, increase vision and speak to them, so, that when they return God will speak a fresh message through his servants.  My next post will be on how a church should respond while a pastor is on sabbatical.

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