Pay attention to Jesus: God said,
“This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor (Romans 12:11).
Chris Sallade, president of our Board of Elders, shares the rationale behind a recent decision of the board to implement a sabbatical policy for senior members of pastoral staff. Chris writes:
In his book, Zeal Without Burnout, Christopher Ash highlights several keys to a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice. Among them are proper sleep, meaningful friendships, inward renewal, and Sabbath rests. As one who himself suffered ministry burnout, Ash calls ministers to take these things seriously. He quotes sobering statistics: “some 1500 people leave pastoral ministry each month in the U.S. due to burnout, conflict or moral failure.”
It is critical that pastoral leaders carve out intentional seasons of rest. It is good for them to have opportunity to renew trust in God as Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Provider, and Lord over all. It will be a blessing for our pastoral staff to do this personally even as they call the congregation to do the same. To that end, the Stone Hill Church Board of Elders recently and enthusiastically implemented a sabbatical policy. I share highlights below; details are available at the church office upon request.
The purpose of a sabbatical leave is two-fold: rest and enrichment. First, the demands of pastoral ministry can be emotionally, relationally, and physically exhausting, and therefore our pastoral staff will benefit from a season of intentional rest. Second, pastoral leaders need dedicated time to continue to develop in ways that can enable them better to serve the church and congregation. They will benefit from a season when they can study, research, take courses, write, and pray in a concentrated way free from demands of ministry.
The goal of a sabbatical leave is that the pastoral leader would bring benefit back to the church through fulfilling this two-fold purpose. In short, a sabbatical is beneficial for both the leader and the congregation.
When our pastoral leaders begin taking a four-to-six week sabbatical in the months and years ahead, other church staff and volunteers will ensure that ministries, teaching, and care will continue in their absence. May these periods of intentional rest fulfill Romans 12:11 in and through our beloved pastoral staff: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.”