Devotional – Sabbatical

Published 10:19 am Friday, June 9, 2023

 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; Mark 2:27 NRSV 

As I write this article, I am in the middle of a six-week sabbatical period. The term “sabbatical” is derived from the root words in Hebrew and Greek that we read in the English Bible as “Sabbath”. For most of us, we merely take that as the first day of the week, Sunday. It is a day to worship and for many an absence of work, however we define work.

However, the biblical understanding of Sabbath is truly much more. The Presbytery of the Peaks, in recommending Terms of Call for pastors, defines sabbatical as “…an extension of the Biblical concept of renewal through the Sabbath day and Sabbath year….Sabbatical Leave is time for the minister to refresh, nourish, and replenish body, mind and soul for ministry. It is a time of rest, travel, study, & re-creation, a time away from the responsibilities of pastoral ministry.”

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Sabbatical is a time to commune with God and be present with God, to renew relationship with God and reorient ourselves to the correct way to view life. It is the antithesis of not working. In fact, it is a time to work at our relationship with God and reorient ourselves. It is a time to remember who created the world and everything in our world. It is a time to strengthen our relational ties to God by remembering who made the earth and all that is on earth. It is a time to step back from the business of running our own lives and reorient our way of thinking about how we should be living our lives for the glory of God. It is what we need to correctly focus on God, first, last and always. This is more important than anything else we can do.

You may say, “What about going to worship on Sunday? What about tithing?” It is important to worship, but unless we enter worship with a proper attitude, we worship in vain. As for tithing, God asks 10% of our goods and money, yet in keeping one seventh aside for our relationship with God, God has asked much more. One out of seven days is close to 15% of our time. 

Seeing that importance, perhaps we should seek Sabbath on each and every day?

Keith Leach is Pastor of College Church and College Chaplain at Hampden-Sydney College. He can be reached at