If you're looking for a spiritual reset, you don't have to relocate to Sedona. Read on for advice on how to plan the perfect spiritual sabbatical for you, whether you have seven months to devote to an extended soul journey or only a few hours to devote to a home retreat:
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- Make a conscious effort. Set a clear objective for why you need a sabbatical and what you intend to accomplish during your time away before you pack your bags. Having specific goals for your sabbatical will help you get the most out of it, whether it's growing your spiritual practice, getting emotionally and physically well, or discovering your life's purpose.
- Make a decision about where you want to go. You will be wherever you go, so choose a location that nurtures the inner traits you want to cultivate during your retreat. Consider locations in or near nature, such as a beach vacation or a solitary mountain retreat. If you're short on time, create a mini-sabbatical by attending a weekend course with a trusted spiritual teacher, or take a mental health day off from work to go for a long hike, try out a new creative pastime, or simply relax and do nothing.
- Take Charge of Your Responsibilities. Determine how long you can go without a regular paycheck before checking out. Negotiate a return date and any compensated leave with your employer, telling them that this investment in your mental health will allow you to return rejuvenated and more productive. Set up enough money for your sabbatical to cover all of your expenditures and living expenses. If you have children or are caring for an aging parent, hire a babysitter or ask friends to cook or clean for you so you can spend time on yourself. It's important to remember that you can't truly love someone else until you've learned to love yourself.
- Disconnect from the Matrix. One of the best aspects of taking a sabbatical is the opportunity to unplug from the daily grind that keeps us locked. Say goodbye to draining relationships and other duties that aren't helping you progress spiritually. Allow yourself time to do nothing. Unplug from everything that saps your life force, from social media and cell phones to binge-watching TV series that rob us of the inner dialogue we need to grow. You'll have greater stamina for the difficult process of going within with this extra vitality. Consider the meaning of life for a while. Consider your soul.
- Accept the journey. Spiritual journeys do not follow a linear path, even if you have established an aim. Accept that you are about to go on a soul journey. Surrender to the knowledge that the Universe is in charge and that you can trust it to guide you to your finest self. Be prepared for the unexpected. Keep an open mind and be willing to try new things. Often, it is life's inevitable twists and turns that teach us the most valuable lessons.
Finally, it doesn't matter when or where you take your next sabbatical; what matters is that you do it. “The unexamined life is not worth living,” as Aristotle put it. It becomes simpler to plug in to what matters most when you take time to unplug from the responsibilities of life every now and then.
What is spiritual sabbatical?
I took my first sabbatical twenty-seven years ago. I'd heard of pastors taking sabbaticalsgoing away for a few days to be with the Lordbut I didn't think a sabbatical applied to me as a business owner. However, I was led to go on one by the Lord. My in-laws assisted me in locating a suitable location, and I ended up spending a week in a chilly one-room cabin in East Texas in January.
I spent the first three days of my first sabbatical hearing nothing from God and whining about how much money I could have made if I had stayed at work. Then, on the fourth day, God offered me five business ideas in less than 30 minutes. Five principles that have changed the way we do business and given us a competitive advantage in the marketplace for almost two decades. I've taken three sabbaticals per year since then. Without them, I don't believe I could live the life God has called me to live.
You might be thinking, “That's great for you, Steve,” but why would I need to take a break? To strengthen your relationship with the Lord, the answer is yes. The term “sabbatical” is derived from the Hebrew word “Sabbath,” which refers to a day of rest set aside for God. A sabbatical is just a collection of Sabbaths. I'm sure you spend a lot of your time running around, whether you're a businessperson, a student, or a stay-at-home parent. We work hard, spend time and money attempting to solve problems, and in the process, we often destroy our businesses, families, and health when what we actually need is to sit down and be in good relationship with God. It takes time to improve your relationship with God, and it takes time to improve your relationship with God. You must spend time with Him if you desire answers and wisdom.
Every time I take a sabbatical, the Lord offers me a new perspective on myself, my family, and my ministry. He provides me with very specific instructions for my life. He also reveals me things through His eyes. So, whether you go away for two days or a week, spending time with the Lord for an extended period of time affects you.
Here are 12 suggestions to help you prepare for your first sabbatical.
1. There is no such thing as a suitable time to take a sabbatical. Something else will always come up, but I go because I see the benefits and rewards, even if it's only for two or three days. And I believe God's promise in Exodus 34:2124 that if we spend time with Him, He will drive away our enemies and expand our borders.
2. Go somewhere where you won't be easily sidetracked. It doesn't have to be a frigid hut in the woods; it just needs to be a place where you and God can be alone. Pray over your room and consecrate your sabbatical to the Lord as you begin your sabbatical. Request that the Holy Spirit fill the space.
3. Begin planning your break approximately a week in advance. Begin to actively slow your mind and thoughts so that you can focus on the Lord rather than work, projects, or problems. A sabbatical provides an opportunity to not only spend time with God, but also to rest, pray, fast, worship, and do whatever He wants you to do!
4. Make sure you have plenty of paper, pens, pencils, and highlighters with you.
5. Make plans to be well-organized. I keep a “sabbatical binder” in which I put topics in my life that I believe the Lord may want to address in the coming year on separate pieces of paper (ministry, relationships, family, to do, prayer requests, and work). I file these pages in separate sections of a binder so that I can quickly locate each topic when I need to jot down what the Lord is speaking. I also have a generic topic called “Sabbatical (Year)” where I can write anything the Lord says that doesn't fit into any of the other categories.
6. At the start of the sabbatical, make a blank “To Do” list. Any time you think of a task you need to complete at work, at home, or elsewhere, jot it down on this list right away so you don't have to think about it or attempt to remember it.
7. During your break, try to fast in some way. Fasting increases your spiritual sensitivity to God. As part of your preparation, start fasting the day before your hiatus. Bring plenty of water and warm clothing to flush out any toxins released by the fast. You will feel colder than usual if you are fasting.
8. Don't plan ahead of time for your break. Pray for God's plan to be fulfilled. The goal is to spend time with God rather than to receive something from Him. I normally start my sabbatical by asking the Lord to show me any sins I'm not aware of in my life.
9. Limit your exposure to the outside world. Once every two or three days, I check in with my family and avoid outside conversations.
10. Getting out of your room on a regular basis is beneficial. Once a day, I like to go for a calm walk, and I also prefer to walk at night. There's nothing wrong with doing something to divert your attention away from your break as long as it's only for a short time.
11. Keep your eyes on the Lord and utilize this opportunity to strengthen your bond with Him. I stay away from all newspapers, publications, and television programs. It's alright to bring a few books with you, but try to keep them to a bare minimum. It is quite easy to become engrossed in a book and lose track of time that should be spent with the Lord. Furthermore, this is not the best time to pursue a thorough Bible study on a given subject. It can take up a lot of time and take you away from spending time with God and hearing from Him.
12. Ask Him to direct and guide you as you submit your will to Him. As you read His Word, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. More than you desire to hear from the Lord, He wants to speak to you.
How do you plan a personal spiritual retreat?
Here's a step-by-step plan for going on a spiritual retreat:
- Make the time and find a location. Consider how long you want to spend and when it will be possible to fit it into your calendar.
What is a biblical sabbatical?
The biblical practice of shmita, which is tied to agriculture, inspired the concept of the sabbatical. Every seven years, according to Leviticus 25, Jews in the Land of Israel must take a year off from working the fields. A “sabbatical” has evolved to refer to a long, planned break from work.
What should a sabbatical look like?
A real Sabbatical is a period of relaxation during which one observes the Sabbath. It's like putting a bunch of Sabbath days together. It's a period of time during which you don't work. You don't do any of the following: pastoring, leading, ministering, visioning the church's future, or planning sermons.
What does the Bible say about taking a sabbatical?
I was sitting at my desk shortly after we returned, thinking about my ambitions for the rest of the year.
I keep a whiteboard next to my desk where I write monthly goals so that I can stay on track.
I wasn't sure whether I had spelt “Sabbatical” right as I gazed at the February objective that I had just crossed off.
After all, it's not easy to spell Sabbatical, and I don't write it every day.
The first result was a Wikipedia page confirming that I had misspelled it. But, before I could close the browser window, I read a little more into the post and was immediately enthralled by how they define a sabbatical and what it entails.
I had no notion that the concept of a sabbatical was a Biblical concept at the time (somehow it had never dawned on me that it was from the same root word as sabbath).
How Wikipedia defines a sabbatical leave:
“A sabbatical or sabbatical (meaning “ceasing”) is a break from work that usually lasts two to twelve months. The concept of a sabbatical can be found in the book of Shmita, which is mentioned multiple times in the Bible. In Leviticus 25, for example, there is a mandate not to work the crops during the seventh year.
How long should a sabbatical be?
The length of a sabbatical might range from two months to a year. The normal length of a paid sabbatical is six months. It allows you to travel, study, or attend to personal commitments as a parent or caregiver with enough time and flexibility. Keep in mind that you should not take a sabbatical using unused sick or vacation days, as this necessitates special planning and permission from your workplace.
Why do pastors take sabbatical?
Being a pastor can put one's spiritual health in jeopardy. Pastors have struggled for ages to retain a close relationship with God while serving the church. It wasn't uncommon for a preacher to leave his congregation for a month or more to recharge his batteries. Pastors are rarely given this time off these days. Perhaps this is why a record number of pastors are burning out and leaving the ministry. A sabbatical permits the pastor to spend time alone with God, apart from the demands of ministry. It allows him to confront his evil side and resist his temptations (again, think of Jesus in the wilderness).
A sabbatical gives the pastor renewed mental health.
The only way to completely recover from compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, or burnout is to step away from the source of the problem for a lengthy period of time. Many pastors use vacation time to heal, but this takes time away from their families. Furthermore, holidays are rarely long enough to allow for complete healing. In most cases, the pastor regains some health but never fully recovers. This indicates that the pastor is constantly performing at a sub-optimal level, implying that he is never at his best. It's no surprise that so many churches are struggling; they're following a preacher who is constantly exhausted.
What do pastors do during sabbatical?
While the pastor is on sabbatical, the church's leaders fill in some of his responsibilities. Some members may be in charge of locating fill-in ministers or delivering sermons themselves. Other church members should take over the pastor's other responsibilities, such as visiting sick individuals in the hospital and counseling grieving families. If the pastor stays at home during his sabbatical, the congregation must regard him as another church member and refrain from calling on him to execute his pastoral obligations. As members of the congregation take on some of the pastor's responsibilities, they receive a new perspective on the job he conducts for the congregation.
How often is a sabbatical?
Some firms, for example, allow you to accrue long-service leave in addition to your usual annual leave, which you can then take as a single block after a few years. People I've met have accrued three months of long service leave and used it to spend time with their families or travel.
Sabbaticals are generally offered once every seven years in the academic profession to allow a researcher to focus on a certain issue by traveling or changing environments.