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  • Why Do Pastors Need a Sabbatical?

    Have you ever worked hard? So hard that when you got home, all you could do was simply sit in silence for some time to decompress from the time you spent working? Many of us are fortunate because once our workday ends, we are able to disengage from the stress of our jobs and enjoy our time at home.

    But imagine with us, if you will, a job where you aren't able to simply "clock out"—instead, your mind is always 'on,' wondering and thinking about work. Imagine a position where almost half of the respondents think that their job is hazardous to their family’s well-being, where they experience burnout or depression that makes them want to leave their jobs. Imagine a job where the majority of those surveyed have lower self-esteem than when they began. One where the divorce rate is the second highest amongst all professions.

    Just imagine with us a job where eighty percent of the workers feel unqualified and discouraged in their role. Imagine one where people would leave if they could, but they have no other way of making a living. One where the majority of the participants constantly fight depression, and one where almost half of those polled have admitted to an extramarital affair.

    You might wonder, “Why would anybody stay in that profession? Why don’t they just quit? This sounds hazardous to their health and families!”

    Well, all of the statistics above just described the responses from everyday pastors who work tirelessly and faithfully in their ministries all across the nation. Pastors feel, by and large, underpaid, unappreciated, and undermined as they go about the work that God has called them to.

    As Ekko prepares for Pastor Bryan’s first sabbatical, it’s important for us to not just know the what and the how, but we must also understand the why. Sabbatical is not an extended vacation. It is Ekko’s way of honoring and stewarding God’s gift to us—our pastors—so that they can be healthy for the long haul. Just as Pastor Bryan and Michelle have taken the time to care for, pray for, and love all of us as our pastors, the sabbatical season will be an opportunity for the church return the favor by caring for, praying for, and loving them with time away to spend as a family to reconnect and recharge for the next ten years. It also gives Pastor Bryan the opportunity to engage in the things that give him life—the things that he can’t partake in because he’s busy with church work—and allow him to return to a state of wholeness before our 10th anniversary so that we can continue participating alongside God in the renewal of all things.

    Ekko, let’s get ready to pray in the coming months for our pastors. In the next year, members will be updated with links and prompts to pray for our pastors regularly as they take this much-needed time away to pray, rest, and recuperate.

    In the meantime, however, we can begin praying right now. Did you know October is Pastors Appreciation Month? As we draw closer to the sabbatical, you can begin praying right here and now in the following ways:

    • Pray for our Senior Pastors: As they plan for their sabbatical—that the planning will go smoothly and for God's timing as they prepare to leave.
    • Pray for our Pastors: While Pastor Bryan and Michelle are gone that their strength will be renewed and vision for ministry refreshed.
    • Pray for our Leaders: For joy and steadfastness to flourish so that the House of God can continue to be a place where people belong and become who God intended them to be.

    (We are indebted to Eugene Cho of Quest Church for his blog posts detailing the statistics related to pastoral ministry and his own experiences with sabbatical. You can read the full articles here and here.)