The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
- Mark 2:27, NIV
In Stephen Covey's bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 7 is "Sharpen the Saw." Covey tells the story of a woodsman working feverishly for five hours to saw down a tree. When asked why he didn't take time to sharpen his saw so the work would go much faster, the man replied, "I don't have time to sharpen the saw." Covey uses this as the starting place to talk about the need to "Sharpen the Saw" in our lives. He says this comes through physical, social/emotional, spiritual, and mental renewal.
In our Christian faith we talk about this need for renewal as "Sabbath." Keeping the Sabbath is one of The Ten Commandments. And while we worship God on the Sabbath, as Jesus reminds us in the words above from Mark's gospel, we are the ones who benefit from Sabbath renewal.
It has become common practice in many churches to grant sabbaticals to pastors after serving a church for seven years. Our presbytery recommends this for all fulltime Pastors and Christian Educators. Sabbaticals are not extended vacations, but planned times of study and renewal for personal and professional growth. These are times for prayer, rest, and study that renew pastors so they can be more effective in serving their churches. It is one way to "Sharpen the Saw" that benefits both pastors and congregations.
Last Monday evening, our Session graciously approved the recommendation of our Personnel Committee that I be granted a sabbatical this summer after serving JCPC for seven years. Beginning May 29, I will be on sabbatical for eleven weeks. Neal Kuhlhorst and Brian Daoust have agreed to handle all pastoral duties during that time. They will be preaching along with other guest preachers.
I am very grateful to our Session for granting me this time of renewal. I will be sharing with you in the coming months how I plan to spend it. I have become aware how many businesses are now offering sabbaticals to renew their employees. If you have some good suggestions for what to do, please share them with me!
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, we know that even during the creation of the world, you rested on the seventh day. Help us to realize that we, too, need times of Sabbath renewal. During our Sabbaths, may we drink deeply from the wellsprings of your grace. Fill us with your love. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.