What Is A Sabbatical? (And Why Do We Have Them?)
Sabbath is a compelling concept in the Scriptures. The Spanish word for Saturday—Sabado— and our word sabbatical are both drawn from the word “Sabbath”. It is derived from the Hebrew word meaning rest, in which God invites us to change rhythms from our normal work routine and responsibilities.
God commanded the Sabbath to be a regular, weekly rhythm to take a break from normal work routines and responsibilities (Exodus 20:8-11). He designed the Sabbath to bring refreshment (Exodus 23:12); for we are humans and not perpetually working machines (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). What is more, this Sabbath rhythm was to involve all members of the family, employees, people loosely connected to them, the working animals, and even the land itself (Exodus 23:10-12). So, though the expression of the Sabbath changes with Jesus’ arrival, the overwhelming message from the Scripture is that God is serious about us finding Sabbath in some form of a day off, a vacation, a holiday, or a break.
It is in that spirit that the elders of FBC have encouraged me to take a Sabbatical, beginning on April 18th and concluding on July 25th. During my Sabbatical, I will take a break from my normal work routine and responsibilities so that I can pursue particular opportunities for retooling and refreshing for the next season of my ministry here at FBC. In particular, I will be spending time on the following (in order of importance):
1. Furthering my reading comprehension skills through a guided study on classical literature,
2. Writing to develop the leadership lessons I’ve learned over the past 7 years as I transitioned in as the senior pastor and moved us through necessary changes,
3. Seeking greater emotional health in ministry through regular counseling and visiting my previous ministry posts on the east coast (along with vacationing with family), and
4. Learning about digital outreach to enhance our own.
That’s my plan anyways so that I can more effectively lead, preach, and shepherd our church family into the future. Of course I’m excited to learn, but I’m more excited to love our church with greater skill because I feel more emotionally tied to this church family than I ever have with all we’ve been through together in changes and pandemics.
My request of you is to pray for me, and to give yourself to this church family during my Sabbatical. Find a small group to do a Jesus-like life with. Figure out ways you can serve this church family to strengthen them in faith, love, and hope. Give generously to maintain our level of ministry in advancing the kingdom. And lastly, keep worshiping God together so that you’re reminded of God’s great reality, your faith is renewed weekly, and you feel the challenge of living out the Scriptures and the gospel in real time.
Looking forward to a more fruitful future together,