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Sabbatical Countdown

In just a few weeks, I will start my Sabbatical. Starting on May 6 th I’ll be heading out for some extended time to rest, pray, connect with our Heavenly Father; I’m also grateful for the opportunity it provides to go on a memory-making adventure with my family.

A number of years ago, Steve, our Founding Pastor and Grand Poobah, wrote some great words on Hope’s Sabbatical policy. I want to share some of those words with you:

In the early years of Hope, by the grace of God and the wisdom of the Leadership
Team, it was decided a Sabbatical after 7 years of full-time service would be given to
all Pastors.

Please know I am very aware most people will never ever, regardless of how long they
work at any given place, have the privilege of being offered the opportunity or
experience of a Sabbatical. Therefore, I also understand how many may be unable to
 appreciate or understand why it is given and why it so beneficial. Please ponder a few
reasons why a Sabbatical for Pastors is a good thing.

— It is a good thing, because… it helps to ensure the longevity of Pastors. According to
various polls the average Pastor’s tenure in a local church is anywhere from 3.6 – 7
years, while the average stay for an “effective Pastor” is 11.2 –21.6 years. In general,
the longer a Pastor stays at a given church is a good thing. After all it takes time to
 build relationships, trust, and set vision to see good things accomplished.

While being a Pastor is very rewarding it can also be very draining. Why? Because, as
each of us know, loving people can be very demanding and draining. During the
difficult and draining times just knowing an extended break in the form of a Sabbatical
is coming can help to keep Pastors long term. By the way most of our Pastors at Hope
have long term tenures which has been and is a blessing.

— It is a good thing, because… it aids in the spiritual growth and development of
Pastors. If a shepherd is to adequately care for, protect, teach, and love their sheep
then it is very important they be spiritually healthy. This extended time away offers the
much needed opportunity to step back, catch your breath, de-stress, hear from the
Lord, and be revitalized. Which also means it can be helpful in strengthening a Pastor’s
marriage and family.

— It is a good thing, because… it helps to set an example for other ministries. Years
 ago, while meeting with a small group of Pastors, I heard one rather proudly express
how he had not taken a day off from ministry in five years! I thought to myself that was
one of the most foolish and dangerous things I had ever heard a Pastor say. Even God
rested on the seventh day! Even Jesus took time away to go pray! How much damage
was caused to the church, his family, and his very self by not taking time away from his
 ministry? Hopefully others will observe Hope’s practice of giving Sabbaticals, they will
see its benefits, and begin the practice themselves.

Steve’s words are wise, and I’m grateful for a church and Leadership Team that have established this great gift to our pastors.

I’m not heading out for a few more weeks, so if you have any thoughts or questions regarding my sabbatical, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Also, in an upcoming newsletter before I head out, I’ll share a little more about what I’ll be doing with my time away.