Our Bible verse for today: “I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me; instead I went to Arabia and came back to Damascus. Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas and I stayed with him fifteen days.” Galatians 1:17-18 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Consider taking a Sabbatical”
Saul the Pharisee became Paul the Apostle – so he had a significant mid-life change of careers. Between those two major seasons in his life he took an extended Sabbatical. After he came to faith in Christ, but before he started the new work that he would do for the rest of his life, he took a three year sabbatical in Arabia.
“Sabbatical” is a term many people are unfamiliar with, but the practice of sabbatical is more common than you might realize. A sabbatical is simply an extended period of time-off from normal activities to rest, reflect, decompress, and renew. Sometimes it is also a time to prepare for the next season of life. That’s what Paul was doing in Arabia.
Sabbaticals are most commonly used as a long break in professions that are intellectually demanding. Most school teachers get a two month sabbatical every summer as they recover from the school year that has just ended and prepare for the one that is coming up. College professors normally get an entire sabbatical year every seventh year. It’s a time when they don’t have to teach classes or counsel students. Instead they spend the year traveling, doing research, and writing. Pastors are often given short sabbaticals at milestone markers in their tenure at a church, such as at the 10, 15, 20 year point.
However sabbaticals are also commonly taken during periods of major transitions in life. It’s becoming more and more common these days for young people to take a sabbatical year between high school and college – just to take a break from the grind of endless studies. I have a son who went to Romania for a year after high school, living with a Romanian Pastor’s family and serving as an intern in the church. Recently I met a young man who is taking a year to serve as an Americore volunteer building homes for poor people in Appalachia before he resumes his college work next year.
Recently I read a great book by author Jeff Haanen called “An Uncommon Guide to Retirement”. Haanen encourages Christians to take a sabbatical year after retiring from their career to rest, travel, do your home improvement projects, and just decompress from a lifetime of work. But once the sabbatical is over, it’s time to apply yourself in some meaningful and productive way so that you don’t waste that season of your life. Go to work for a charitable non-profit agency; start a small business doing something you love; get involved in lots of volunteer work; do something to help others and make the world a better place. Take your sabbatical, but then go back to making a meaningful difference in the world.
Are you in a profession that is exceedingly draining physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually? You might need a sabbatical. Have you reached some significant milestone in your life or career? If so, then perhaps it’s time to enjoy a short sabbatical. Are you transitioning from one season of life to another? Feel free to take a sabbatical in-between the seasons.
Time off is not wrong. You don’t have to constantly go, go, go. Maybe it’s time for an extended break.