A new year and a new season come to mind in January. Student Pastors across America look at the new year through a different lens. It could bring thoughts of Disciple Now weekends on the horizon or even Winter Conferences with their student ministries. Student Pastors could also see January and the new season as refreshing because a crazy fall schedule and the holidays have just ended.
No matter how Student Pastors view January, they have goals, visions, and a mission to implement for their designated ministries. Personally, I encourage Pastors to have short-term goals (weekly, monthly, or quarterly), but they also need long-term goals (annual events, spiritual goals, and goals for their services). It seems that different articles and blogs come out around this time of the year offering ways to set and reach goals throughout the year. Once again that is imperative, and each Student Pastor should make goals and missions to achieve. However, let’s look at a different perspective to a new year.
January has begun and a new year starts to tick away before us. One thing I have noticed over the last thirteen years of youth ministry has been a lack of conversation on youth pastors taking the time to get refreshed and re-energized.
In the circles, I find myself in, student pastors do not talk about sabbaticals and intentionally taking time off to grow spiritually and as a pastor. Some reasons for this can include: Ministry never actually stops, spending time with teenagers, writing sermons and series, and putting in office hours and time outside of the church building at night doing ministry.
Some Student Pastors may have the ability to travel to conferences once a year for spiritual and ministry growth, while others may not have the ability or funds to attend such meetings.
I want to offer a different opportunity because of the reality that every Student Pastor or volunteer reading this has different budgets allocated to them. Throughout the last thirteen years, I have created a way to have a mini-sabbatical and seasons of being refreshed. Because there is nothing worse than a Pastor who has no energy left to serve the church, love their families, or do ministry.
Every Student Pastor at least gets one day off a week. I would encourage you to turn that day once a month into a day where phones get turned off, computers are left at home, and only your Bible, pen, and notebook are present. Go somewhere that is 20-30 minutes away at minimum, which will allow you not to have the temptation to hang out with church members or students. The one day a month is just for you to get away for spiritual and physical re-energizing. You can choose whether you sit at a coffee shop or a park to have your mini-sabbatical.
Over the mini-sabbatical work through a book or a section of the Bible. While working through a book or section of the Bible take notes on what God’s Word is saying to you. Through praying and reading parts of the Bible allow God to speak to you. Design the day or weekend to meet the needs for finding rest and spiritual growth in your heavenly Father.
Here is a sample of mini-sabbatical taken recently and how the day was scheduled out.
Time Plan Purpose
|9:00-9:30 am||Wake up and breakfast||Get ready and head out|
|10:00 am||Arrive at location||Find a spot or place and unpack Bible, notebook, and pen.|
|10:15 am-Noon||Pray and Journal||Begin by writing down some prayer requests, battles, and desires for the next month. Then start praying over these requests. When done the praying, sit still and listen to worship music. Allow your heart and mind to worship and body to rest.|
|Noon||Lunch||Go somewhere special to eat|
|1-3 pm||Read and Pray||Pray first for guidance, rest, and for spiritual growth to come through time in the Bible. Choose a book or section to work through for Spiritual Growth. (Romans- 3 John are my go-to’s). Read the article, or a book then journal through it at your pace. It could be that you work through one verse in the whole day. Do what you feel God leading you through at that time. One thing I do is write down goals to pursue over the next month within my ministry.|
|3 pm- Until whenever||Something Unique||Find something personally that helps you relax and allows your focus to move off of work. It could be a favorite coffee place, movie theater, hiking, photography, videography, or amusement park.|
Everyone’s mini-sabbatical will look different, but format it to meet your needs. It is important to remember to schedule a mini-sabbatical every month. Each time you have a mini-sabbatical bring along a book to read through that month. I recommend adding Alan Fadling’s An Unhurried Life to your reading list. Fadling’s book has changed my schedule and approach to ministry daily.
I will be praying for you as you begin to schedule and plan out your mini-sabbaticals throughout 2017. May you find rest, encouragement, and energy for ministry daily.
Dr. Scott Talley
Scott founded The Unwritten Pages in the summer of 2017. He currently serves as an Associate Pastor of Students at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Durham, NC. Scott has been ministering to students for over 14+ years where he has had the privilege of sharing the gospel with students while helping them become Men and Women of God. Scott created The Unwritten Pages to help minister to Pastors, Youth Pastors, and Youth Workers. Scott is an experienced and energetic teacher/preacher of the Bible and enjoys sharing the gospel with everyone.