The turning point of my ministry story in Broken for Good happened when I decided to take a sabbatical. I’d been in a meeting with several other pastors, and a guest pastor joined us who wasvisiting California on sabbatical from his church in Canada. We were cautiously intrigued. He asked how many of us had taken a sabbatical. Not one of us had. We had lots of good reasons, but he cut us off and simply said, “You’re all in sin.”
The fact is, he was absolutely correct. We sin when we refuse to rest. God said, “There’s a Sabbath day, and you’re to keep it holy,” and part of that is find a way to disconnect from the work we do. The work I do as a pastor happens to be spiritually-related, so many of us pastors try to justify ourselves, thinking, “Well, I work for God so my Sabbath is the day to give of myself.” But no, you need a Sabbath day where you’re giving to no one but yourself. You will have to relinquish controland let God be fully in control. And until you have the self-awareness to relinquish and rest, you will never replenish. That’s part of the deal with a sabbatical.
Ministry isn’t a business, it’s a daily spiritual battle that you’re in. You have to deal with business and financial issues, with all the problems, cares, and worries of all the people in your church, with personnel and personality issues. If you think you can carry the entire ministry, and everyone’s burdens and then get up and teach and be on fire, and then go home, and then be at peace – it just doesn’t work. You need rest. You have to make time to relinquish control and let go. If you can’t do that, then you’ won’t be fit for the ministry long term. We’re in a long-term work here, so I have to plan what’s best for me, as part of serving the long-term health of my church.