Starting this Sunday afternoon, Pastor Bland will be starting a sabbatical. After 20 years of uninterrupted ministry, he's going to take three months off. During this time, Bland will step completely away from responsibilities at City on a Hill. I'm literally going to change his email password. We're going to keep paying him while he's away, and we're going to be praying for him even more than ever.
Let me emphasize, Bland is not taking a "forced" sabbatical. He's not going on sabbatical due to any sort of moral or professional failure. He's not being placed on leave. And he didn't push for the sabbatical for personal gain, rather our elders have pushed him to do it. He's simply taking a sabbatical to rest, spend time with family, grow closer with God, do some writing, and hear some fresh vision from the Lord.
Most of the people I've talked to about this have been happy and excited for him. You have probably heard of other pastors taking sabbaticals in the past; it's a pretty common thing in the life of churches. But I know that some of you have to be thinking, "Why does a pastor need a three-month paid sabbatical?" Let me share with you 3 reasons why this is a great thing for us as a church to allow our pastors to do.
1. Pastors are humans. We get tired. Physically and spiritually. We go through emotional highs and lows unlike most other vocations. And a spiritually exhausted pastor is not what anyone wants. Ministry is our job, and it's hard to take a step back from challenging situations. Burnout is a common reality among pastors, and as a result, you see churches burn through pastors far too often.
2. Our culture makes it exceedingly challenging to truly get solitude. When you look at the Bible, Jesus spends a lot of time in solitude. But when was the last time you were truly alone? Where no one could reach you? In order to follow Jesus's example and lead people spiritually, solitude seems like a must. Yet it's very challenging to accomplish.
3. The Bible celebrates both work and rest. And sometimes it celebrates extended periods of rest. You see years of sabbath in the Bible and years of Jubilee. Ironically, taking a Sabbath day off is really hard for pastors. We work on your day off. And we are always on call, 24/7/365. Our culture emphasizes work over rest, but we want to push back on our culture a bit and balance the two.
Bland will be gone through the summer and will return the last week of August. During this time, please be praying for Bland and his family. Pray that the Lord give him some much-needed rest and a fresh vision for ministry. That he comes back with more energy and passion than ever before. Also be praying for the other pastor/elders (we use the words synonymously) as we lead, preach, and care for the church in his stead. Pray against the attack of the evil one.
- Pastor Fletcher