Rest is Not an Easy Thing 

When our “get it done” accelerator is stuck to the floor, it’s difficult to rest.   

It was excruciatingly painful for me to take my first sabbatical after 14 years of non-stop ministry, week after week. That’s why taking a Sabbath must be done by faith. With faith, we are assured that God knows how to take care of matters in our physical absence so that we can cease from our own works.  

In this way, by faith, the minister enters in and ceases from his own labors. It’s like God bringing His children into the Promised Land after all their labors in Egypt.  

Hebrews 4:3-11
“For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. If Joshua had given them rest, he would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 

Hebrews 4:9-10
So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God [it is available to us now]; for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his.

That is what the true Sabbath is, to cease from your own labors, your own efforts, your own activity; to cease from your own works. 

Rest is Important 

Rest is important. Your ability to hear God’s voice and to work productively depends, to a large degree, on your willingness to rest. We all need to rest physically and mentally. Sleep is important to your successful life. With prolonged sleep deprivation, the imagination can begin to play tricks on you and convince you to make bad decisions. Without rest, the devil can get a toehold.  

God wants us to rest in His goodness. He gave us physical rest, emotional rest, and spiritual rest. We know we need about 8 hours of sleep a night. In the early years of ministry, I settled for about four hours per night. It’s not surprising that I developed some serious physical problems. We also need emotional rest. God calls that the Sabbath.  

Sometimes we need an extended rest from the regular routine. That is called a “Sabbatical.” We rest in the goodness of God that He took our sins away, and we acknowledge Him as the Creator who gave us the example when He rested on the seventh day. 

Thoughts on Rest

First of all, a Sabbatical is not a cessation of activity—rather a change in activity. You are resting from your normal duties, ministry, or regular routine. 

Second, good rest, true rest, is therapeutic, curative, and brings a restoring quality to our lives. It leaves us ready and willing to get back to our normal routine, knowing we’ll be better at what we do because we rested. 

Third, mental rest is just as important as physical rest. 

The Bible teaches us that genuine rest comes from God: 

Isaiah 30:15-16
For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing, And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses,” Therefore you shall flee! “And we will ride on swift horses,” Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift. 

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. 

Psalm 127:2
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. 

Sabbatical Policy when I served as Pastor of Mount Hope Church 

What a Sabbatical is not: 

  • A Vacation 
  • A time to exclusively work on an unrelated project 

What a Sabbatical is: 

  • A time off from the regular routine—a change in activity 
  • A time to refresh and restore and allow God to re-create passion in you and impart fresh dreams and faith goals. 
  • A time to seek God, study His Word and receive prophetic insight from Holy Spirit concerning His plans for your future  

Mount Hope Church Sabbatical Policy: 

  • After seven years of full-time service to Mount Hope Church and Pastor Dave Williams, a minister is qualified for a paid Sabbatical provided he/she has been faithful and fruitful in ministry. 
  • Sabbatical length: 
    • Executive ministers: 3-month sabbatical 
    • Associate ministers: 2-month sabbatical 
    • Assistant ministers: 1-month sabbatical 
      NOTE:  The Sabbatical must be taken all at one time (no splitting up the months). 
  • No two ministers shall take a sabbatical at the same time until the church is at a regular 10,000 in Sunday morning attendance. 
  • The minister taking the sabbatical shall have all work up to date, and have an appointed, qualified lay delegate to “fill in”—one person in charge. The executive pastor shall approve the delegate. Ideally, it should be the minister’s “Timothy” (apprentice or mentee). 
  • Application for sabbatical must be made in advance and approved by pastor or his official delegate. 

A Sabbatical may be requested in writing every seventh year. 

There shall be no double-sabbaticals. For example, if a pastor puts a minister on mandatory sabbatical to get something straightened out (attitude, marriage, etc.), that counts as his/her sabbatical for that seven-year period. 

Renewed, Refreshed, Repaired, and Revived! 

Now, get back to what you were called to do! A sabbatical is designed to refresh, renew, and give you greater ministry longevity.

Download Sabbatical Policy Article

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