I am about to embark on a month-long break to get away, enjoy time with family, read a stack of books and do some long-range thinking. As a meet with great leaders all over the country, I find that many Christian leaders don’t use up their holiday leave, much less take such a huge break. The idea of an extended period away from work may sound like an exotic concept or, worse, unemployment. It was very foreign to me too the first time I took a month off but it changed me for life.
My first month off was in 2010 when I concluded my pastoral role at New Peninsula Baptist church. That sabbatical was extremely meaningful to me, it was a time of transition, confusion and unsettling. However, God used the season to bring deep rest, clarity and resolve. Afterwards, I regretted that I had not done it sooner and it has now become a yearly cycle.
This cycle of work and a long break and work again has helped me adjust priorities, planning and focus. I find that I am more focused and work harder knowing that a sabbatical is just around the corner. It’s not easy to do, it takes some significant adjustments in thinking, planning, finances and calendar to make it happen.
I know some of you are reading this and thinking “what a dream! I’d love that but it’s impossible” BUT before you rule this out, ‘coach’ Kylie wants to as you a question… “What would it take to make this possible?” Maybe you can’t do it this year, but you might be able to take a sabbatical next year or in two years if you decide it’s something you want to do, plan ahead.
Here are my 4 reasons for taking a sabbatical
1. Recharge Spiritually, Physically and Emotionally
For the last 7 years I have been balancing two jobs (Generations Pastor for Baptist Union and CEO of CCI) as well as parenting two beautiful children in primary and high school with my husband. So my week is full, there is always someone or something demanding my time. There are always people to meet with, call or console. I’m not at all complaining – I LOVE what I do and have a calling to it. But as I read scripture I see that on the seventh day of creation God rested. I recognise I can’t just “go, go, go” and expect to be a great leader (let alone functioning person). I am designed to work out of a place of rest.
2. Enjoy Being
I am a J – Judging in the Myers Briggs profile and so I love to “get stuff done” I love ticking off my list. So much of my life is defined by appointments, tasks and activities. So in my sabbatical time I love to be at the beach, read, garden and sometimes stay in my PJs till lunch time (because I can). Where I can enjoy being present with God and family, friends and nature with no agenda.
3. Clarify Priorities and Goals
I use my sabbatical to do a ‘life audit’ over the past year what have I learnt about myself, God and leadership; what were the highlights and lowlights; and what are the big rocks and pebbles for the next year. I don’t do the “big rocks” priorities very well on my own so I meet with my coach to help me through this this one.
My kids are growing up so quickly, I’ve been married for 18years and the years are flying by, I don’t want to miss the special moments with them. This month off helps us all align, be together and go on some great adventures together, and laugh and enjoy each other’s company. After God, family is my top priority and a sabbatical helps me keep that in check.
How about you, what do you think about taking a month off?