I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard it. “Wow, that’s quite a vacation! I need a vacation like that.” And I want to respond, “It’s a sabbatical, not a vacation!” I know. Most would wonder if there is a difference. If so, what is it? Isn’t a sabbatical just a long vacation?

SabbaticalPoseIf you didn’t know, I’m very blessed. I’m a recipient of the coveted National Clergy Renewal grant. Yes, really! A four-month sabbatical full funded by the Lilly Endowment. Even though I started writing the grant proposal 18 months ago, submitted it a year ago and found out I received it six months ago, I still have to almost pinch myself to see if I’m just dreaming. My wife Linda and I fly to Europe for the initial segment of our first-ever sabbatical in just a little over 24 hours!!!

So what is a sabbatical and why would the Lilly Endowment fund them for 87 clergy this year? It may not be obvious, but a sabbatical is anchored the ancient word—Sabbath. Shabbat or Sabbath, starts far back in Hebrew history. It’s a day of religious observance and abstinence from work. Jews keep Shabbat from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Most Christians traditionally observe Sunday as a day of worship and rest. One day of rest out of seven. Jews and Christians would also note that even God rested after six days of Creation. Healthy and sustainable lives are usually marked by a similar pattern.

AlpsAccording to YourSabbatical.com, a sabbatical is “a planned, strategic job pause that allows you to travel, do research, volunteer, learn a new skill, or fulfill a lifelong dream.” This business-focused website, goes on to describe the most meaningful sabbaticals are planned—with opportunity for intentional reflection, professional development, personal growth, transformative insights, and renewed passion.

Sabbaticals are NOT simply vacations. A sabbatical is much more. From planning my own sabbatical and from the reading I’ve done, here’s the difference.


Usually not goal oriented                     Achieves personal and career goals

Reflection is possible                           Intentional reflection is necessary

Work waits for your return                    Work has a solid coverage plan

Smartphone is on                                 Smartphone is unplugged to business

Optional sharing upon return                Planned sharing with co-workers

Little input from others                          Seeks input from other sabbatical goers

Paid with short-term funds                    Needs long-term financial plan

Little thought to enhancing career/life   Purpose is to enhance career/life/ministry

Focus on recovery                                 Focus on rejuvenation

There may be plenty more comparisons. In my sabbatical grant application, I proposed four goals for my sabbatical —Rest, Recharge, Retool and Reconnect. In the next post, I’ll expand on how the activities we’ve planned will help these “R”s to be accomplished over the next four months. If you subscribe via email on the home page, you’ll get each post right in your inbox. I will be reflecting and posting periodically during this sabbatical so join me on the journey! And as an added bonus, I’ll have some links on my next post to my photography website with a few photos I anticipate capturing in the Swiss and Austrian Alps! Stay tuned!


QUESTION: What more would you like to learn about sabbaticals? Please share in the comment section below and I’ll make an attempt to touch on them over the next four months. Thanks for going on the journey with me!


Discover more from DENNIS GINGERICH

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Verified by ExactMetrics