Sabbatical- what is it?

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on

I first raised the idea of a Sabbatical to council in October 2015 with planning beginning in earnest over a year ago. But what is it and what will I be doing during this time (May 20-August 18)?

Quite simply, a Sabbatical is a paid period of leave during or after the seventh year of work often being 3-12 months in length.

Sabbaticals are not new

The precedence for a Sabbatical comes right out of Scripture. You may recognize a similar word, Sabbath, which is the day God has given each week for rest; the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3). Scripture also talks about a Sabbath Year, a year of rest for the land (and by extension people) every seven years (Leviticus 25 & Deuteronomy 15). In the Sabbath year, debts were supposed to be forgiven and slaves freed; it was a year of rest marked by freedom.

You may have heard of Sabbaticals being given to professors so they could have a dedicated period of time to study and publish in an area of interest. The Church universal has seen a renewed emphasis on offering Sabbaticals to clergy in light of the high burnout rate of pastors and the rapid turnover rate as well.

Sabbaticals are for Rest, Renewal, Refocusing

It’s not just a three month vacation! The time that I step back from an active ministry presence at Trinity will be a time to help me serve the church more effectively. Being a pastor comes with daily emotional highs and lows (in the same day I might be with a family celebrating the birth of a baby and then have to come alongside someone who is dying. I count the opportunity to be in your lives as a blessing; I thank you for opening them to me and providing me an opportunity to share Christ in them. But working with people can be extremely draining.

This Sabbatical is an opportunity for me to rest from the constant demands of the ministry. It also provides an opportunity for personal and spiritual renewal. I will have the opportunity to spend extra time with Cassy and the kids which is really life giving for me. I also will take some extended time simply being in the presence of God and His Word, without thinking about sermons or Bible study preparation. I am approaching this leave as a way to be refilled and refreshed which doesn’t always happen when you are pouring yourself out for others.

Finally, I will be seeking the Lord’s direction for us at Trinity. I will be asking God the question, “What is Your heart for Trinity over the next seven years?” This is not just about me and my family but about all of us as a church family at Trinity to grow in our relationship with Jesus. Will you prayerfully seek the Lord over the summer asking him, “What is Your heart for Trinity over the next seven years?”

What I hope to do

You already know I am notorious for planning and staying busy. I am trying to rest from some of that during the Sabbatical but here are some things I (and my family) will be doing:

  • Study: I plan on spending some time doing some intensive learning: reading/research on the subject of Rural Community Development and the Gospel. I hope this research will be the basis for further study I want to pursue at some point in the future.  
  • Rest: I plan on booking a couple days of alone time which will allow me to be by myself with the Lord.
  • Health: I plan on doing some longer (day-long) cycling trips over the course of the summer which is something I’ve wanted to do for some time.
  • Travel: We plan on travelling the Oregon coast, spending some time in Portland, OR and Seattle before visiting family in Abbotsford and attending a week of family camp at Camp Luther in Mission, BC.  
  • Family Time: A good portion of the Sabbatical will be spent with family; about a week of which will free up Cassy to work on finishing the courses she’s been working on.  
  • Seeking the Lord/visioning: What does God have in store for Trinity in the fall and beyond?

Please pray for me, our family, and our church during this time! May this be a rich time of blessing for us all!

I plan on updating this blog semi-regularly so check back here to see what I’ve been up to!