Sabbatical: Vacation or More?

Sabbatical: Vacation or More?


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, 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!


14 comments found

    Making Time for What Matters Most | DENNIS GINGERICH

    December 23, 2014 @ 6:17 am

    […] year, since we were granted a fully-funded sabbatical during the summer which included planning a legacy week at the Oregon Coast with our children and […]


    November 12, 2014 @ 6:16 am

    […] this year, while on sabbatical, my wife Linda and I spent nearly three weeks in Germany. One week of our travels was based in […]

    Against the Flow | DENNIS GINGERICH

    October 8, 2014 @ 7:43 am

    […] Wartburg Castle, Germany. Dennis visited Wartburg while on sabbatical […]

    Exterior Reflects Interior | DENNIS GINGERICH

    September 25, 2014 @ 6:17 am

    […] during our recent sabbatical gave my wife Linda and I some conversation opportunity about an important life principal. Exterior […]

    Why Are You So Afraid? | DENNIS GINGERICH

    September 19, 2014 @ 6:16 am

    […] about that little life lesson quite a few times since June 21 when we were in Arizona while on our sabbatical. Maybe it has been the same for you. There have been times in my life when I thought my Father God […]

    Sabbatical: Recharging and Reconnecting Anywhere | DENNIS GINGERICH

    September 4, 2014 @ 6:16 am

    […] Cathedrals. Churches. Convents. Caves. Cars. Cafes. Chapels, Castles. Condos. Cabins. Cruise Ship. Canyons. And Creation. All of them. Uniquely different. But the same. Places of worship—while my wife Linda and I were on our recent four-month sabbatical. […]

    Sabbatical: Everywhere I Go I See You | DENNIS GINGERICH

    August 28, 2014 @ 8:30 am

    […] Sabbath time, these last four months, have been good for me in many ways. We’ve clearly moved toward our […]

    Sabbatical: Intentional Legacy-Leaving | DENNIS GINGERICH

    July 16, 2014 @ 7:01 pm

    […] writing the grant proposal to fund this sabbatical, we desired to create some memories that would be carried for years to come […]

    Sabbatical: A Time for Rest | DENNIS GINGERICH

    June 26, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

    […] least two or more times each week, it feels really strange. But remember, I’m on a four-month sabbatical. And don’t forget the four R goals of my sabbatical plan–Rest, Recharge, Reconnect and […]

    Sabbatical: Rest, Recharge, Retool & Reconnect | DENNIS GINGERICH

    May 7, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

    […] the sabbatical grant proposal to the National Clergy Renewal Program, these words were written regarding my sabbatical […]

    Rick Ferrarelli

    May 2, 2014 @ 11:13 am

    Congratulations on your body of work just to be chosen as a grant recipient. It takes a lot of hard work to put forth an application to be considered among thousands. I met you just a few short weeks ago, and immediately felt comfortable. I truly enjoyed my experience at Cape Christian, I am in awe of what you have achieved. I wish you well on your journey, I look forward to following you on your blog and “live” on Sundays, Thank you for your connection with my brother Mike, which brought me to Cape Christian.

    Mary Dorendorf

    April 29, 2014 @ 11:18 am

    Have a blessed trip. Will be excited to hear how it goes. Don’t forget to have FUN too!

    Gregge Johnson

    April 29, 2014 @ 10:32 am

    Our Pastor Jim Beard from Elk River MN, is also going on the National Clergy Renewal . he is continually drained by the challenges of numerous congregations and churches going bankrupt, moving out of their buildings and trying to bring us together. He needs a year not 4 months . The word I would offer to you is balance. There is no vacation, only Relaxed ,mentally ,spiritually, physically .

    Dan Koehler

    April 29, 2014 @ 7:43 am

    Enjoy and recharge

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