The May 2012 QuietWaters Compass contained an article by David L. Ragsdale entitled “Compassion Fatigue.” In Ragsdale’s sixth strategy for self-protection—“create your self-care plan”—he states: “Plan that overdue sabbatical,” a recommendation I heartily endorse. I have done it, twice! But even two sabbaticals in nearly 40 years of ministry are not enough. Many denominations now believe that pastors should be given a sabbatical every seven years.
To me that feels just about right. Sadly, most pastors never get one sabbatical, let alone two. And we wonder why compassion fatigue prevails.
A sabbatical needs to be a change of pace, a Sabbath, a time out. Even God rested from His work of Creation on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2). As you read of God’s creation in Genesis, the Hebrew idea of what a day should be is put forth. Although it is strange to us, the Hebrew day begins at sundown. “Evening and morning in day one . . .” is how the Bible puts creation. This sequence should condition us to God’s rhythm of grace. We go to sleep, and God does His re-creating work in our bodies and minds. We awaken and are called out to participate in God’s creative action. We respond, after being renewed in faith and work. In the two passages of scripture where the Sabbath commandment appears, the commands are the same, but the reasons behind them are different.
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