Next week I will be heading out on a seven-week Sabbatical. I am incredibly grateful for this 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 couple 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.
While I am away, will you please be praying for a few things? Please pray for our staff who will be stepping up to lead and teach during this time. Please keep praying for our building team as we prepare to break ground this Fall. And please pray for my family and me as we head to Uganda to show our boys their birth country, and that I would clearly hear from the Lord His plans for us as a church as we head into this next season together. Thank you.