Thoughts From Week 1 of My Sabbatical


It’s been quiet here on the blog for a few weeks. Preparing for a sabbatical is a lot of work! But now, after a week of rest, I’m starting to unwind and think a little more clearly.  My pace of life has been wide open for a long time, and this break has come at the perfect time for me. It’s hard for me to slow down and not hurry, but I love what John Ortberg says, “Hurry is not about a disordered schedule, it is about a disordered heart.”

This first week my focus has been on rest. I’ve read a few books about the Sabbath and rest. In the book Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul by Lance Witt, he shares the following troubling statistics

Today’s troubling statistics on pastors paint a bleak picture.

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
  • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
  • 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
  • Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
  • Over 50% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
  • 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
  • One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.

This really gets my attention, because I don’t want to become another statistic. I want to be a healthy pastor and leader, and I want to be a great husband and father.  At first, my plan for this sabbatical was going to be a lot of studying and reading and planning for the future. But after talking with the elders at Cornerstone, they really encouraged me to rest and to just simply listen to God.  Already, after just one week, I have found myself smiling more, laughing more, and I feel much less anxiety and stress.

Eugene Peterson shares

If we are going to take sabbaticals, let them be real sabbaticals: a willed passivity in order to be restored to alert receptivity to spirit-prayer, silence, solitude, worship…The original intent of sabbath is a time to be silent and listen to God, not attend lectures; a time to be in solitude and be with God, not “interact” with fatigued peers. If help is to be given to the pastor in midcourse, it is not going to come by infusion of intellect but by renewal of spirit.

The most enjoying part of this time has been the discussions with my family about our rhythm of life. I am thankful to our church for allowing me time to recharge. I am looking forward to getting back in September and preaching, but I’m truly excited about the next three weeks with my family.


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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3 Responses

  1. Morgan says:

    Thanks Mike for the post! Yesterday I was reading 1 John where John encourages three groups of believers; the children who need to know that the father loves them, the young men who have overcome the evil one, and the fathers who John exhorts as know ing the father who is from the beginning. It is a great picture of the christian journey as a growth from infancy to fatherhood.

    The reason I bring this up is because I have been asking the Lord recently to launch me into ministry, I am tired of waiting. I have a desire to serve him in ministry, but each time I pray about it I feel that the time is not yet. Why? because I now see that am still that young man growing in the Lord and battling with the evil one. Day by day the Lord is routing out the anger, the unforgiveness, the wounds from past hurts, and replacing it with his truth. As much as I want to be in ministry NOW I can look ahead and see that if I do not first grow into a father of spiritual faith I will not withstand the storms ahead.

    I believe one reason so many preachers get discouraged and move on is because they never fully matured into spiritual fatherhood. My prayer is that this sabbatical fortifies your role as a father in the faith and that you will be blessed as you continue to father a generation so desperate for genuine faith and love.

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