June 21, 2012 by Stephen
Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year). In the strict sense, therefore, sabbatical lasts a year.
The foundational Bible passage for sabbatical concepts is Genesis 2:2-3, in which God rested (literally, “ceased” from his labour) after creating the universe, and it is applied to people (Jew and Gentile, slave and free) and even to beasts of burden in one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11, reaffirmed in Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
In recent times, “sabbatical” has come to mean any extended absence in the career of an individual in order to achieve something. In the modern sense, one takes sabbatical typically to fulfill some goal, e.g., writing a book or traveling extensively for research. Some universities and other institutional employers of scientists, physicians, and/or academics offer the opportunity to qualify for paid sabbatical as an employee benefit, called sabbatical leave.
I’ve been on my sabbatical leave (one of our church’s employee benefits for ministers) for a little over two-and-a-half weeks, and although things didn’t start off the way I had hoped and planned, I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. My leave will last for two months (although I wouldn’t mind doing the strictest sense of the definition and take a whole year!), so I’m about a quarter of the way through. I spent the first week resting and decompressing from my normal day-to-day schedule at the church. My wife remarked to all those who asked her at the end of the first week how I was doing, “He is doing well. He looks so relaxed.” I spent lots of time alone that first week and enjoyed relaxing times with the family. I’ve been reading (more on that in a later update). I’ve been worshiping at other churches on Sundays. All in all, it has been a great start.
My goals are to do some research on current and future trends in Christian education and spiritual formation, particularly as they relate to Baptists. I would like to be able to help our church do a better job in helping people grow spiritually closer to Christ, especially in today’s culture and environment. Part of this includes researching how today’s (and future) technology impacts formation. I am also hoping to find a doctoral program in Christian/spiritual formation I would like to begin in the near future. And I want to continue to rest, relax, and refresh so that I will start back in August with renewed enthusiasm and energy for my job.
I’m so thankful and grateful for this opportunity!