My First Sabbatical

I leave for my 1st Sabbatical ever on June 16, 2013! I am both excited and nervous!
I am excited because after 15 years of fulltime pastoral service I need it; 10 years as Senior Pastor at Mercy Church and 5 years a Student Pastor elsewhere. Previous to that I served as Student Pastor for 7 years, but it was on a volunteer basis, so I don’t count that. And nervous because I’ve never been away this long before, but thankfully we have a very capable staff and leadership team to handle things.
If you are a part of any denomination you know that they highly recommended their pastors take a sabbatical every 5 to 7 years. So it’s a long time coming for me, I should be on my 3rd Sabbatical by now. Ha ha! Of course, I can’t complain I could have taken one in previous years, but I didn’t. No one to blame but me.
So this blog entry is really more for the Mercy Church congregation, but I also hope to inspire any pastor that reads it to take the recommended sabbatical. You not only need it, but deserve it; whether your church is 100 people or 10,000 people you should take a sabbatical.
Frankly, the reason I never took a sabbatical is that I didn’t feel our church was “big enough” to deserve one. Sad I know, but it’s how I felt. I felt that if we were huge I could justify taking some time away.
Now, mind you, I am not taking an elaborate Sabbatical like some pastors of larger churches do (nothing wrong with an “elaborate” sabbatical if your church can afford it) I wish our church could send me on an trip to the Holy Land to walk where Jesus walked … that would be so cool!)
I am taking just some time away to rest, refresh, and recharge! And I am even doing it combined with my yearly family vacation.
So let me be clear here, Mercy Church is NOT PAYING for my vacation or Sabbatical, but they are paying me while on my sabbatical. Make sense? There is not going to be any additional expenditures for Mercy Church during this time.
Sabbaticals can range in length from 1 month (which is what I am doing) to taking 1 year away … and everything in between. Again, just depends on the size of your church and abilities of staff to run the church while you are away.  
I have done some reading on Sabbatical Guidelines, a “what-to-do” while on sabbatical. And there are a million different ways to do this, and I am doing my own variation.
During the first half of my sabbatical I am going to detox myself by not even thinking about church related stuff (believe it or not this is extremely difficult for me.) It’s difficult because I actually do enjoy what I do; I am one of the lucky ones, doing what I love to do. I hope to accomplish this by reading fiction books and enjoying time with family. “Clearing the palate” as they say. Then during the latter half of my sabbatical I will begin journaling and looking into the future for what God is doing in me and through me as well as through Mercy Church.
If you think about it say a prayer for me that while away I will be rested and refreshed and ready for yet another 15 years of pastoral ministry.
Further Reading on Sabbaticals: