Sabbatical Leave

Sabbatical Leave

Are you considering working less or somewhere else? Maybe you made that change recently. Chances are you or someone you know has been part of the “great resignation” which became a buzzword in 2021 as noticeably higher numbers of employees voluntarily left paid positions.

Analysts project it will continue through 2022 with up to 20% of staff quitting. In March Barna research reported 42% of pastors are tempted to quit too. The top motivator for both ministers and other professionals has not been higher income but a desire to improve their well-being in the wake of the pandemic. Barna identified high stress, political division, and family impacts as top factors prompting clergy to contemplate a career change. I won’t lie; the prayer “Lord if it is Your will, please release me from this role” has been my petition more than once. But He hasn’t yet, and Jonah convinced me running from God’s calling is futile. I’ve also discovered the deceptively greener grass on the other side can be fake plastic turf! You might be able to exchange certain stressors for others, but you’ll never eliminate them. That’s why finding a sustainable rhythm, healthful practices for resilience and disciplines for endurance is key.

Sabbath is one of the blessings God gifted for this purpose. We don’t “keep the Sabbath,” it keeps us. But when you serve each Sabbath, that weekly day of rest and renewal is more elusive. Sundays become the day to catch up on chores that can’t be completed within an irregular weekday schedule. The book of 1st Chronicles indicates the Levite priests would serve in the temple for about one week per month between a 24 week rotation and seasonal holidays. God gave his people a lot of time off! Even the land after 6 years of agricultural production was given a sabbath year and left dormant.

Despite no human intervention God promised bountiful harvests would follow (Leviticus 25). I have just completed six years of pastoral service to OAC and will be embracing this example to cease from productive labour and experience some ‘fallow’ recovery time. Don’t worry, this sabbatical is not for an entire year but 40 days (which has its own Biblical and spiritual significance). Coincidentally my sabbatical will coincide with the close of the current Shmita year 5782 in the Hebrew calendar.

Pray for God to do His restorative work with my soul so I can share the returns from this investment of rest.