“Don’t continue doing things the way we’re doing them at present, each of us doing as we wish. Until now you haven’t arrived at the goal, the resting place, the inheritance that God, your God, is giving you. But the minute you cross the Jordan River and settle into the land God, your God, is enabling you to inherit, he’ll give you rest from all your surrounding enemies. You’ll be able to settle down and live in safety.” Deuteronomy 12:9-10 (MSG)
Many times in ministry, or within our organizations, we find ourselves gifted with a sabbatical. This is defined as an extended time of leave in order to replenish, rest and renew our souls allowing space for God to reveal the vision he may have for us around the work to be done within our call. Often times organizations offer this gift with little guidance and because of that we see sabbaticals ranging from family vacations to study intensives, and even creation of many new ministries birthed from the ideas born in what was intended to be rest for your soul. These are not bad things, they are life giving and good, but we want to look at ways we can support rest, restoration, and spiritual connection during this sacred time. The sabbatical is one of our best defenses against burnout. How does a Sabbatical help you care for your soul?
During times of Sabbatical we can naturally begin to evaluate our identity. Who am I when I am not working, pushing, performing? This question alone can be enough to cause us to want to create busyness in order to distract ourselves. We are reminded in the passage from Deuteronomy above that we were once slaves who have been set free. Do we know that? Do we live that truth? Sabbatical offers us the chance to contemplate what we have become enslaved to and what we’ve forgotten about ourselves--about our identity in Christ. This is the work that leads to transformation, it’s where our longings meet our experience. Support from a spiritual director during this season can give you the courage to allow this process to unfold.
Are you considering taking a sabbatical from your current work and ministry? Would you love to, but don’t have the option right now? If so, what might a sabbath rhythm look like in your week to week life? Consider these questions and the support of a spiritual director as you explore them:
What were you made for? What gets in the way of this?
What would be deeply refreshing and renewing? How can you make room for that this season?
How are you nurturing your true self, the self who lives in delight with God?
Jesus, thank you for the many examples you give us for rest and engagement. Help us to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as we reflect on what it might be like to retreat for a season with you. If we need months, help us find weeks; if we need weeks, help us find days; if we need days, help us find moments. Bless us and keep us, amen.