Time off…with pay?

God modled health for us by resting on the 7th day. ¬†(Gen. 2:2) ¬†He asks us to do the same…every week! ¬†Now, broaden ¬†this concept and apply it to the leadership of the church. ¬†The idea of a pastor taking a Sabbatical Leave every seven years isn’t necessarily a new idea. ¬†Its just not a widely accepted one. ¬†Here are some reasons I’ve personally heard over the years that some most churches won’t honor their pastors with a Sabbatical Leave.

“We can’t justify paying you for not being in the office.” ¬† Can you justify paying your pastors an hourly wage and not a salary wage? ¬†I’m not complaining about my pay…from any church I’ve served at. ¬†But if you’re going to take this approach toward this question, please consider the average 55-80 hours the average pastor dedicates each week for 40 hours of pay. ¬†Two to three months leave every seven years doesn’t seem so extravagant.

“It’s not in the budget.” ¬† Here’s the simple truth. ¬†It’s not there because you didn’t put it there. ¬†It’s not a priority! ¬†Good grief, you have seven years to budget and plan for it a little each year. ¬†Make it happen.

“The rest of us in the secular job market don’t get one…why should you?” ¬† Honestly, this kind of attitude is cancerous to a church. ¬†Pastors’ entire lives are focused on God’s Kingdom agendas. ¬†This is not the case with corporate America.

“Who will preach on Sunday and shepherd the church.” ¬†First of all, its God’s Church….not a pastor’s! ¬†Plan ahead and find guest speakers in your own congregation, sister-congregations, etc. ¬†As for shepherding, pastors are called to train up the Church for the work of the ministry. ¬†(Eph. 4:11-13) ¬†The Church should be able to take care of itself for a short while.

The general purpose of a Sabbatical Leave is to gain much-needed rest at the soul level of the pastor.  It is NOT vacation, an early exposure to retirement, or even to make time to complete a doctoral dissertation.  I have only experienced two churches in 25 years that offer this to their pastors.  Usually, there is a healthy variety of rest and leisure time with family, learning and growing by visiting other churches that are thriving, and personal/spiritual restoration and quiet-time with God.  I am personally blessed to be serving in a church that believes in offering a Sabbatical Leave to our Lead Pastor AND the rest of the pastoral staff every 7 years.

To the Pastor who might be reading this post, if this blessing is offered to you….take it! ¬†Spend 2-3 months with God and your family. ¬†Don’t think about ministry work. ¬†Your calling and soul will be renewed and strengthened more than you know.

To the Elders Board or Leadership Team, pray and discuss this as a group of believers who have a significant level of responsibility for the health of your Lead Pastor. ¬†Ask yourselves, “Is there value in our Pastor leading our church for another seven years?” ¬†Talk to churches that have given Sabbatical Leaves to their Pastors. ¬†See how they do it, and ask ¬†about the benefits they’ve seen from it.

May your church be richly blessed with healthy leadership. ¬†What’s¬†your¬†response to this subject?