A Sabbatical Covenant

8 Aug

One of the ways to ensure a Sabbatical is an intentional and worthwhile time is to form a covenant which is agreed with the church / organisation as part of the planning.  I formed the last one I used around Marva Dawn’s 4 point outline in Keeping the Sabbath Wholly. 



My central purpose in taking a <time frame> Sabbatical is for personal renewal in life and ministry. It is planned in the interests of stewarding my life and ministry well for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

I believe Sabbath is a Biblical principle that I am called to observe in life. I am aware that a significant number of Christian leaders with people related ministries and personality types similar to mine, experience significant burnout in midlife. While I am not feeling like burnout is imminent for me, I do recognise the need to be proactive about this and spend time putting ministry aside in order to serve the Kingdom of God more effectively when I begin again.

Consequently, personal and ministry renewal is my priority for this period. I recognise the need to be intentional about this and not just ‘let’ things happen. This intentionality is the creation of space and time for God to work and for me to walk with God’s agenda.

I am conscious of laying aside my normal pattern of ministry.

It is currently my intention, to return to <place, ministry, appointment> on <when> for a further term <time commitment>

There are four areas of observance of the Sabbatical period I would like to commit to.

  1. Ceasing Ministry

    1. My normal ministry of <position, role, task> will cease for <time period>. This includes ……   Consequently I will notify all organisations and people who carry expectations of my availability….   I will decline all invitations to …

    2. There are … specific exceptions.

      1. Specific requests from family and friends to minister or officiate at Weddings, Funerals, or Baptisms.

      2. Emergency situations

    3. In order to place a physical boundary around ceasing ministry, I will close my office by <date>. I will make arrangements for … to clear my email forwarding only personal material through to me at home. I see an ongoing committed place among the people of God at the …church. 

    4. <Arrangements for locum, replacement staff>

    5. <Recommencement process>

    6. <Other responsibilities, community, organisations over this period defined>

  1. Rest and Recreation

    1. Over the Sabbatical period, I will be seeking to allow time for the recreation of energy for ministry. Specifically I need time cultivating spiritual health, intellectual health, physical fitness and emotional health. I sense that I need a basic shape to my Sabbatical leave in terms of rhythm.

      1. Sabbatical rhythm:
        <time> – Rest and recreation, fitness, fun and relaxation.
        <time>– Reflection and review
        <time>– Study, exploring, engaging, research, learning.
        <time>– Preparation and engagement of new ideas, writing, values and vision.

      2. Weekly rhythm: This is just a rough outline: 1 day bushwalking & exploring, 1 day spiritual retreat, 1 day in garden and around home, 1 day – open to God, 1 day – <specific areas>. Weekend with family.

    2. My wife has strongly suggested that Sabbatical should be about inactivity and serendipity. That I should be open to God-surprises – to intentionally put aside time to take a journey of exploration with God – wherever and whenever he wants to take me. This appeals to me and I am keen to allow significant time for this.

  2. Embracing
    I see Sabbatical as an opportunity to reflect on my life and weed out aspects that hinder my growth and embrace or ‘seed in’ new areas of life and ministry. I hope to spend time in <dates> reflecting on:

    1. My Calling – Mission and Vision – I would like to explore more of my history and personality, calling and mission. I would like to reflect on my phase of leadership and focus in ministry. Included in this is reviewing, exploring and rebuilding my philosophies of ministry, leadership, and life.

    2. Our family relationships – I would like to grow in my relationship with <spouse>. I would like to learn more of who each of my children are and how I can help them grow as individuals in each phase of their lives. Included here is renewal of my commitments to marriage and parenting. I want to reflect on and grow in my ways of relating as a husband and father.

    3. Our home – in particular I would like to explore cooking, gardening and creating, especially outside areas. Our local community – I would like to understand more of the place and community God has placed me. I am interested in being part of something different for a time

    4. Our connection to the world in which we live – I would like to explore ways we can connect to and serve our world as a family. I am interested in <area> but I will not join any group or accept any appointments.

  3. Celebrating
    I see <time period> as an opportunity to celebrate and give thanks to God through appreciating the good things he has given.

    1. I would like to celebrate Gods grace and care in significant ways.

    2. I would like to be able to make celebration a regular aspect of our family life and enjoy things together.

    3. I would like to find ways to celebrate God’s good gifts of music, family, friends, community, creation, food, etc.

    4. I would like to celebrate the last six years of ministry (since my previous Sabbatical) in a meaningful way.

  4. Reporting and Sharing

    1. I am committed to collecting my reflections and learning into a report which I would like to present on my recommencement.  This will outline how the time has been used, what I have learnt and any new directions I feel called to explore. 



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