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Thinking Sabbatical? 8 Considerations

Today's post is from Flourish Coach Scott Lowe. Scott is pastoral coach in Denver and writes at He can be reached on Facebook or by contacting Flourish.

I took a sabbatical in 2016.  It was a time of retooling, self-realization, and revitalization. These were 8 things that guided my sabbatical rest.

1) Ask for, at least, a 3 month sabbatical. – study leave at end– Reassure your leadership of your motivations for rest, recovery and return.  I would encourage you to then tack on a study leave at the end so that you can do your yearly planning.  I think it is really good to step away from church stuff, as much as you can, during your sabbatical. 

2) Consider some basic marriage counseling. Always good. My wife and I did this before, after and once during the sabbatical to help us think through how to rest and how to grow in this time together.

3) Do a few personality profiles. If you have already done them… review them.  Self-work and self-understanding is so good for you in this time.

The Enneagram is my favorite of these. With the Enneagram there is a fantastic podcast called Typology The Strengths Finder and Myers-Briggs are behavior based. And the Enneagram is motivations based. 

4) Read books for your emotional and spiritual health. Here are my suggestions:

Learning to Rest -  Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allender

Learning compassion again… I needed that - Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle

Great book on helping you with limits - Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown

Dave Kraft was my coach and worked in some tough and toxic environments -  Leaders That Last by Dave Kraft 

Great book on brokness / transparency and leadership - From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership (PastorServe Series) 

5) Journal. Write about your readings.  Write out your devotionals. Write your feelings. Write your growth points.  

6) Sleep in!!!!!  Definitely sleep in. It will take a few weeks to let the spring uncoil but when it starts – it’s epic. 

7) Get away with family. Find a mountain house, lake house or beach house to stay there for a month of your rest.  

8) Get a Grant. Lastly but not least, I did not do this but highly suggest for those considering a sabbatical. Apply for the the Lilly Grant. It’s a 50k grant. Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs seek to strengthen congregations by helping their pastors to take time away from day-to-day ministry to restore their commitment to ministry. Launched in 1999 with a program for congregations and their pastors in Indiana, this annual effort was expanded in 2000 to include a second program for clergy across the United States. These programs are made possible by a grant to Christian Theological Seminary and its Center for Pastoral Excellence, which administers the program. 


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