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About this time of year we start getting email auto-responses from pastors, as many of you take off on sabbatical or extended vacation. Taking a break from your work to rest, recharge and realign is a biblical thing. But we know from experience that church leaders struggle with rest.

Resting well is not just about fun; it’s about the health of your heart and soul. It’s about connecting with and hearing from God. It’s a time to get perspective and make adjustments.

If you’re headed out on sabbatical or vacation this year, consider carving out some intentional time to get perspective on your life. Here are two tools from Paterson Center that could help you do that well:


This tool helps you identify the activities that cultivate health and replenish energy in your personal life. This is not about your family, job or community. Understanding and optimizing the replenishment cycle will give you more energy to be fully present, productive and creative in all aspects of your life and work.

Key Question: What refuels me?

Start by creating a long list of things that replenish you on a notepad or whiteboard. It can be things that you currently do to refuel that you’d like to continue doing, things you used to do that you’d like to restart, or things you’ve never done but are interested in beginning.

They will probably fall into one of these four categories:

  1. Physical
  2. Intellectual
  3. Emotional
  4. Spiritual

Now, narrow them down to your top 4-5 activities. Order them by the rhythm of the cycle, noting whether they are daily, a few times a week, etc. For example,
Replenishment Cycle


Key Question: “Where am I now?”

Take time reflect and answer the four questions honestly, based on what’s true right now, for each domain.

Helpful Lists

It helps to have multiple viewpoints on this one, if you dare. Your spouse will be able to help you build this list more honestly. The challenge for some pastors and some ministry leaders is that these domains blur into all things church (everything orbits there). The church gets first fruits while spouse and/kids suffer. Or, no relationships or friendships are being built in the community outside of the church… Or there is no time to have a hobby, exercise a different giftedness, etc. Managing our domains well helps us be more effective in each of domains.

We actually use a church-specific version of The 4 Helpful Lists in our work consulting with churches. It’s one of the simplest tools in our arsenal, but it is consistently one that brings incredible perspective to the ministry health assessment phase of our planning process.

[button link=”” color=”default”]Learn More About Our 4-Phase Planning Process For Churches[/button]

The point of both of these exercises is to get perspective and lead to action. So, review your responses to both and answer these questions:

  • What action do I need to take?
  • Where do I need to shift priorities?
  • Who will help me stay accountable?

If for a future sabbatical you’d ever be interested in engaging a LifePlan facilitator, we’d be happy to connect you with one we’d recommend.

Have a great vacation or sabbatical! Take time to rest and reflect. I hope these exercises will help you take steps into an incredibly fruitful season of life and ministry.



Photo credit:

Mark Meyer

Mark has been part of Granger Community Church for 23 years leading various teams and currently is the leader for the Development Team. Previously, he served as the Chief Operations Officer for a technology/ consulting firm in South Bend, Indiana. He facilitates strategy for various organizations, believes the Church and businesses can learn a lot from each other, and thrives on maximizing team performance and culture.

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