Observing the sabbath can be tough for ministers, but taking time away from the demands of ministry can help them maintain emotional, physical and spiritual health.
A 2015 LifeWay Research survey of 1,500 pastors of evangelical and historically black churches revealed 84 percent said they are “on call” 24 hours a day. The survey showed 54 percent found the pastor’s role frequently overwhelming, and 48 percent said they often felt the demands of their job to be more than they could handle.
Some ministers “unplug” on a regular basis by turning off cell phones and computers for a prescribed time each week and taking time away from the church office. Some enjoy periodic retreats at conference centers. Others find it hard to get away from the day-to-day grind.
The 2015 LifeWay Research survey revealed 71 percent of their churches had no plan for a pastor to receive a periodic sabbatical.
The meaning of the term “sabbatical” varies according to the context. In the Old Testament, it meant the ground in ancient Israel was left fallow every seven years. In the academic environment, it refers to the paid leave a college professor often is given every seventh year for research, travel or study.
In the ministerial context, the duration and purpose of a sabbatical may vary widely depending on the congregation.
Carolyn Tomlin is a Jackson, Tennessee-based author that has been writing and publishing since 1988. She has authored 19 books and more than 4,000 articles in magazines such as Entrepreneur, Kansas City Star, American Profile, Tennessee Home & Farm, Home Life, Mature Living, ParentLife and many others. You can purchase her full-length works here.