A Sabbatical break

A Sabbatical break

By the time you read this, I will be on a Sabbatical from my usual ministry. I have been pastoring now for almost 18 years, and ironically after a time of significant growth and encouragement in the church, I am feeling a bit run down and tired. My denomination allows pastors to have a Sabbatical every seven years, and this is my second one, a few years overdue.

The term ‘Sabbatical’ is unusual to many because very few jobs have such a thing. They are most common among academics and pastors. The name comes from the word “Sabbath”, a rest from the regular pressures of life and ministry. It is intended to refresh the person taking it through rest and focus in a different direction to normal life. While it includes rest, a Sabbatical should not be simply reading a book and sitting on a beach. It is an opportunity to work on other things, perhaps doing some study, going to conferences, reading or working on some other project.

Pastoring is a unique vocation, with time split between interpreting and teaching the Bible, pastoral care, training and leadership. It is the kind of job where you are exposed to a large range of problems and find yourself in many difficult situations. There is a kind of tiredness that builds up over time, and perhaps more so for an introvert like myself.

While on Sabbatical, I won’t be involved in any of the events of my usual church family. If I do come to a worship service, I will find myself in pastoral conversations and will immediately think of ministry things to do and plan. I intend to attend a range of other churches to better understand the spiritual landscape of my city and to listen to Bible teaching from others.

This time will be good for me and for the church. That might seem an odd thing to say, because I love my church family, and in general I think they appreciate my ministry! This time will remind us that the church is Jesus’ church, not my church. The church family will continue on in my absence. God is in control of the church, not the pastor.

I am looking forward to reading more, having the mental space to appreciate a good novel or a thoughtful Christian book. I will spend more time with my physical family. I will be outside more, appreciating God’s world. And, if I am able, I will be thinking about my next writing project.

God is kind to me in many ways. This time of rest will help me to understand that more deeply and rest in His power over His church and His world.