Pastor Rob to take sabbatical
God made the world in six days. And on the seventh day He rested.
It is a principle He extended to His people—a Sabbath rest is one of the Ten Commandments. And to the land itself. The Old Testament provided a rest for the land every seven years—and even a Jubilee, every 50th year. We have since learned that the land itself would become more fertile. It is a common agricultural practice, even today. But in Biblical times the focus was on following God’s own example—and on trusting Him to provide. (Leviticus 25:18-25).
While the Sabbath was not given to the church in the same way it was given to Israel, Christians have long struggled with how to apply the principle in the life of the church, and not all of their ideas can find biblical support. There is no “Christian Sabbath,” so to speak, but even the American notion of weekends derives from an understanding that we are not wired to go on and on without pause.
The principle has found application in fields of human endeavor, including academia and business. Universities often provide “sabbaticals” for professors to pursue opportunities for professional development—advanced study, focused research, or publishing opportunities. The professor, it is felt, should return to the classroom with fresh ideas and renewed focus.
Businesses have also found sabbaticals helpful in retaining productive and committed workers. By providing leave for study or rest, McDonalds, Nike, AT&T and other companies have created strong management teams. In 2008 the Families and Work Institute found that 24 percent of small companies (under 100 workers) and 33 percent of companies with 1,000 or more workers allowed paid or unpaid sabbaticals of six months or more.
While it is less common in independent churches like ours, many denominations have also found it useful to provide sabbaticals for pastors, allowing them to refresh spiritually. Numerous studies find this helps prevent burnout and provides a fresh look at challenges and opportunities within the congregation. Such times are clearly within the spirit of Scripture. As Christ said, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
In Focus on the Family’s Pastor’s Advocate Series, Dave Wolvniak writes “A sabbatical provides substantial time in which God can speak into our deepest spiritual recesses and bring cleansing, renewal and hope.”
The board has approved giving Pastor Rob some time this summer to prepare himself for new responsibilities as the senior pastor next January. Some of this time will be for research and preparation. Some of this time may be for renewal and rest. The benefits remain to be seen, of course, but our own field should be more fertile and fruitful as we put our hope in the Lord’s character and example.
— Pastor Wally Metts