2017 Sabbatical Overview

On June 12,  I will take some time away from my daily vocation and duties and begin to grow in other areas.  This is called a sabbatical.   Rightly defined a sabbatical is: ” a period of leave for study, travel, and rest.”  


After seven years in my current call, and nearly four years in my previous one, it’s time for me to step back and re-tool.

It’s time to “clean” out the old to make space for the new.

I’ll be blogging this summer about my experience on sabbatical and recording weekly, my experiences and learnings.  I’m excited about the opportunity and possibilities for concentration most all my focus on myself, my family and time for continued professional growth.


Sabbatical Leave for Pastor Steve Cauley

June 12-September 5th

O sing to the Lord a new song.  Psalm 96:1


Six Reasons why it’s essential for a pastor to take a sabbatical:

  • Encourage longer term pastorates/service
  • The nature of a spiritual leader: Spiritual deepening doesn’t take place when one is consumed by a never-ending list of pastoral situations or programming needs.
  • Personal and professional development.
  • Preventing burnout
  • The paradox of congregational ministry– clergy are regularly invited to overextend.  Seldom do we ever go to bed at night knowing that we got everything was done that needed to get done? 
  • Congregational self-sufficiency


Why is Pastor Steve taking a sabbatical?  Zion’s policy encourages a sabbatical for the rostered leader after the first six years of continuous service.  Pastor Steve reached eligibility in August 2016. Leaves are earned and are about a commitment the leaders and the congregation share with each other.


How will this benefit the congregation?  The congregation will directly benefit from an increase in the ability, enthusiasm, and knowledge on the part of Pastor Steve’s learning.  Moreover, it provides the laity of the congregation opportunities to discover new gifts and growth in ministry.


What is the benefit to Pastor Steve? The average length of call for pastors is about 3.8 years.  Longer calls can sometimes lead to ‘burnout’ on the part of the pastors and/or other professional leaders.  Often professional leaders become so occupied with the daily task of parish ministry that they are left with little time to meet their need for enrichment or growth, both personally and professionally.


What sabbatical isn’t…. Leaves are not signs that the pastor is leaving the congregation or desires to take another call. On the contrary, leaves are about commitments the pastor and the congregation make to each other.  A sabbatical policy is viewed as an encouragement to provide active, vibrant ministry in the years that lie ahead.

Another common misunderstanding is that a sabbatical leave is nothing more than an extended vacation.  In addition to the classes and study, there is also time devoted to reading, writing, renewal, and reflection during the sabbatical time.   There must also be a time to rest and refresh for the sake of the future of ministry.

Sabbatical Covenant

(A description of the Sabbatical leave)

Duration:  The sabbatical leave will begin on Monday, June 12th and would last for thirteen weeks.  It will conclude on Monday, September 4th with Pastor Steve’s first day back on Tuesday, September 5th.  Pastor Steve will be utilizing (contributing two weeks of his own continuing education time toward this sabbatical.)  Therefore, the actual time is 11 weeks.

Note: a sabbatical leave is in addition to regular vacation time.


Schedule:  The leave will be directed to the following continuing education time/ spiritual growth events and/or opportunities for rest:

  • Study, Reading, and Reflection
  • Participate in the Doctor of Ministry class intensive
  • Attend the Men’s Ministry gathering in Minneapolis– “The Bold” Gathering
  • Visit the North (and South) Carolina Lutheran Men-in-Mission leaders and learn from them
  • Visitation to other congregations for worship with my family
  • Attend the Wild Goose Festival with my family
  • Spend some time learning the Spanish language in Mexico with my family; Spanish language intensive in Mexico.
  • Rest and work on my home.


Sabbatical leave schedule

June 12-July 10th.  Fly to San Miguel de Allende, Gto.  in Mexico for Spanish lessons and cultural immersion with my family.


July 12 travel to North Carolina for the Wild Goose festival and meeting with the Lutheran Men-in-Mission.


July 21st-23 Attend the Lutheran Men-in-Mission gather in Minneapolis.


July 24-28th Class week at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.


July 29th –  August 13th:  Reading, Resting, Reflection on coursework for the D.Min. Class project


August 14th– September 4th – write a class report for my D.Min.  Additionally, I hope to take time at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico for a solo, silent wilderness retreat and spend some time resting with my family.