Including Sabbaticals as Part of Soul Care for Your Pastor

Biblical Counseling Coalition | 6/11/2018 | Garrett Higbee
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There seems to be a recent resurgence of interest in Christian leaders developing sustainable habits of self-care — a rhythm of work and rest. A number of books and articles on the topic seem to suggest that rest is an elusive but necessary part of going the distance as a pastor or Christian leader. For those of us who care for pastors every day this is a welcome development. Now, before you start thinking “Why should a pastor need extended time off?” consider what they do. They carry the burden of all the sheep. They endure interpersonal conflict regularly, step into situational trauma and grief readily, and, if they are making a difference for the Kingdom, they experience intense times of spiritual warfare on a consistent basis. They rarely ever feel off duty and always feel on call. Most of us don’t have that level of stress or expectation on us all the time. Those of us who counsel daily understand the need for self-care and should be promoting it in our churches for our pastors.

Is a Sabbatical Biblical?

Rhythm - Rest - Work - Life - Focus

Granted, most of us would benefit from a rhythm of rest and work in our own life, but the focus of this blog is for us to better help our pastors and their families get healthy and stay healthy. The idea may be gaining attention, but it is not a new one. We are all commanded in Scripture to take a day of rest each week (Ex. 20:8-11). In the New Testament we see a wonderful invitation to come to Christ for soul rest (Matt. 11:28-30). A sabbatical is a longer and less frequent rhythm, but it comes from the same biblical root (from Hebrew: shabbat (שבת) (i.e., Sabbath), in Latin: sabbaticus, in Greek: sabbatikos (σαββατικός)). It is literally a “ceasing,” a...
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