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Andrew Estes - The Clarity Project


  • Writer's pictureAndrew Estes

One Thing Pastors Must Do When Planning to Take a Sabbatical

Pastors continue to face a growing problem of burnout and exhaustion. Depression, loneliness, and lack of passion are prevalent among church leaders. The demands of ministry can be overwhelming, and the constant need to be available for others can leave pastors feeling drained and disconnected from their faith. The pressures of preaching, counseling, leading, and administrating can take a toll on even the most dedicated and passionate pastors, leading to feelings of burnout, discouragement, and spiritual dryness.

However, there is hope. Pastoral sabbaticals can, at times, offer a solution to this problem, providing a much-needed break from the demands of ministry.

What Is a Sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a period of leave granted to a pastor, typically for several weeks or even months, to step away from the daily responsibilities of their role to focus on their personal and spiritual growth. They allow pastors to step away from the demands of their ministry and recharge their batteries.

During this time, they can rekindle their passion for God and His Word, reflect on their lives, spend time with family, and pray. It can also be a time to pursue new interests and hobbies, travel, or simply rest and rejuvenate. This time away from the daily grind can help pastors gain a new perspective, deepen their faith, and come back to their ministry with renewed passion and energy.

What to Do During a Sabbatical?

So, how should a pastor spend their sabbatical? There are many ways to make the most of this time, and the best approach will depend on the individual's needs and interests. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Travel: Exploring new places and cultures can be a great way to broaden one's horizons and gain a fresh perspective on life. It's an excellent opportunity to visit other churches or ministries all over the place that inspire you.

  2. Study: Delve deeper into your faith and explore new ideas. Read something you wouldn't usually read. Consider enrolling in a course or attending a conference. Pursue conversations with mentors or other pastors and leaders you admire. Many leaders are more than willing to have conversations about investing in your life and ministry.

  3. Volunteer: Spending time serving others can be a great way to put your faith into action and connect with people from different backgrounds. Reconnect with missions that your church supports. Get to know new missions in your area. Give of yourself in fresh ways.

  4. Sabbath: This is an opportunity to focus on your soul and recharge your batteries. Consider spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in leisure activities. Hit the beach, hike a 14er in Colorado, rent a lake house, but be intentional to stop everything and rest.

These are all pretty typical things to consider when taking a sabbatical. But there's one thing that most pastors and church leaders overlook that could be critical to your life and leadership when you re-enter your ministry.

The One Thing You MUST DO During Your Sabbatical

Renew your calling, vision, and purpose!

Having a clear sense of purpose and calling is powerful. When you have a clear understanding of your purpose and calling, you are more likely to have a strong direction and focus in leading yourself and those around you. Living out your calling helps you to stay motivated and inspired even when facing challenges. So many pastors go through life and ministry without a clear understanding of what they are ultimately supposed to do with their lives and why. We often don't have a clear sense of our own vision, mission, values, and understanding of where God is taking us.

Often, our identity as leaders gets wrapped up in what we do. As church leaders, our sense of calling, our values, and our mission are tied to the success and identity of the church. Which is not healthy!

How great would it be to spend some significant time reviewing what God has done in your life and begin dreaming about the season ahead? To answer some fundamental questions in your life: What am I called to do? Why am I driven to do it? How do I go about doing it? When am I successful at living out my calling? and Where is God leading me in the future?

These five fundamental questions seem simple, but I've seen their answers bring a profound sense of freedom, confidence, and clarity into the hearts of dozens of leaders.

So how do you get this clarity as a leader during your sabbatical?

The 48-Hour Younique Life Plan

The journey to clarity begins with the courage to know yourself. Most people go through life missing the power of realizing their special, specific calling. Younique is the first gospel-centered life planning experience that combines vigorous assessment, personal coaching, and practical tools to provide break-thru clarity for your life.

This Gospel-centered life design process is a set of tools to help build the life God has dreamed for you. Many people confuse passion with calling. Younique can help you discover the difference between your gifts, your passion, and the call that God has on your life.

Read what my friend Caleb said about going through Younique:

Going through the Younique process with Andrew was a game-changer for the way I viewed my life and opened my eyes to how God has uniquely gifted me. Before this process, I had never been given or even thought about taking the opportunity to think about myself. I was basing my life and vocation on what I thought were my gifts and what other people had told me about myself. Now after going through this process and putting in the work I have confidence and freedom that I have never experienced before because now I know how God has uniquely gifted me to care for my family, my church, and others.

For some, God's vision and calling are clear as day. They see "the light" or hear God in a powerful way as he guides them in what to do next. For the rest of us, we're left to the good work of discerning His specific will in our lives. Yes, there is a general calling that all believers must follow. But what of the specific calling for your life?

Your divine design, God’s design for your life, is more knowable than you realize. You know that you are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he has prepared in advance, that you should walk in them. With the right tools, you can discover your life vision and bring further alignment to that calling. You can and should know your God-given identity and your God-inspired dreams. Most importantly, you can discern and design the practical next steps to get there.

If you're interested in adding this incredible journey to your upcoming sabbatical, let me know! Don't wait to Schedule a Discovery Call.


Pastoral sabbaticals are a valuable investment in one's spiritual and personal growth. By taking time away from the daily responsibilities of ministry, pastors can renew their passion and soul, and return to their role with renewed energy and a more profound sense of purpose. Whether you travel, study, volunteer, or simply rest and recharge, make the most of this time and allow God to work in your life in new and exciting ways.

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