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Why I'm Taking a Sabbatical this Summer

4/28/22 | Weekly Pastor's Email | by Eric Wakeling


    Dear Calvary Family,

    First of all, I wanted to thank all of you for your incredible support and encouragement with the release of my book, GOD JOY, and the release of our Calvary Life Worship EP called JOY. I love that our church is putting creative work into the world. Did you know that there’s even a section in our bookstore filled with books by Calvary members? Check it out soon! There’s some great stuff there.

    Secondly and primarily, I want to talk about sabbaticals today. We have been intentional about our pastors taking a sabbatical for a little over ten years when we developed a policy and David Mitchell took his first of two sabbaticals. Many of our pastoral staff have been blessed with a time of sabbatical. My last sabbatical was 8 years ago and it was a rich time of rest and deep connection with the Lord.

    I’m planning to take a sabbatical this summer with the blessing of our Elder Board. I’ll be taking some vacation time for a week from June 6-12 when I will finally compete in my Ironman and then my sabbatical will start after that and I will return on September 6th. So I will be out from June 6 - September 6, 2022.

    I’m deeply grateful for this opportunity and privilege and I understand that not everyone is blessed with this kind of rest so I thought I would talk a little here about the purpose, biblical background, history of sabbaticals and some details about mine.

    I’m not burned out and there’s nothing wrong. I wholeheartedly believe that time away with the Lord is the best way for me to be inspired with vision from the Lord for our church. I’m also very intentional about my spiritual and emotional health. This has also been a pretty crazy four years as the Senior Pastor of our church. There’s been a lot going on in our world and I want to be purposeful with this sabbatical to ensure I’m leading out of ongoing health and vitality — and I’m praying that God will speak to me in ways I wouldn’t hear in the midst of the everyday hustle and bustle.

    Purpose and Biblical Background of Sabbaticals:
    The purpose of a sabbatical is to provide deep rest and build dependence and intimacy with the Lord. Sabbatical time away provides opportunities for study, travel, education, reflection, marital enrichment, solitude, and dreaming. We want spiritually and emotionally healthy pastors leading our church. We want pastors to spend extended time seeking the Lord for vision and direction for our church.

    By offering sabbatical leave, the church demonstrates its recognition that the responsibilities of ministry are unique. Even our Lord at times found the demands of ministry to be draining, requiring time away from the crowds (Mark 6:31-32). By using time away for spiritual renewal, the minister is refreshed and able to re-engage the ministry with new energy and vitality (Mark 1:35-39). Sabbatical leave also is a way to honor those ministers who have poured their lives into shepherding the flock (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). The 7-year sabbatical cycle is based on the concept of the “Sabbath year” described in Leviticus 25:1-7.

    Sabbaticals are traditionally offered in the fields of higher education, design, medicine, clergy and occasionally in business. Full-time Calvary pastors may apply for sabbatical once every seven years and commit to stay at Calvary for at least three years following their sabbatical.

    What’s my plan?
    I will be spending extended time in solitude, extended time off of social media and email, going on a marital enrichment retreat with Bea, resting, reading, praying, dreaming, visiting other churches for ideas and inspiration, traveling to Europe to visit missionaries and spend time with family, and I’ll be doing an in-depth study of the Gospel of Luke in preparation for a future sermon series and just because it’s sounds so life-giving to study without working on a sermon to give the next week.

    What’s the plan for Calvary?
    We have a great team here and we cover for each other when anyone takes a sabbatical. Pastor Matt Doan and Elder Chairman Norm Alexander will provide the point leadership for our church for those three months and the Elder Board and Pastoral Staff will all be stepping up in different ways.
    We have some great preachers speaking while I’m away including Matt Doan, Tim Celek, Dan Kimball, Norm Alexander, Doug Brown, Tim Nellis, Josh Wathen, and Josh Simpson.

    What can you do?

    1. Pray that God will speak to me in some beautiful and unexpected ways.
    2. Pray that God will speak through the incredible preachers each Sunday and care for our church.
    3. Pray for our church. Pray that God would use us to make an impact in our world. Pray for the staff that are doing some additional work while I’m gone.
    4. Practice sabbath yourself. Sabbatical is a longer version of the Sabbath principle. I encourage you to practice sabbath weekly and spend time in deep rest with the Lord.

    Feel free to ask questions. This stuff doesn’t make sense to some people and I get that, but please just ask your questions or voice your concerns. Just reply to this email if you’d like.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you,
    Eric Wakeling