Sabbatical for Small Church Pastors

A sabbatical is needed, a sabbatical is refreshing, and a sabbatical is required for those in leadership. Every small church pastor should experience the joy and rest of a sabbatical.

We dishonor the Sabbath Day instead of “honor the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”

In Israel, the Sabbath, from Friday evening through Saturday evening, is a national observance, except for taxis and emergency vehicles on the streets are clear, the shops and businesses closed. A family meal including scriptures, prayer, and familial blessings begins the Sabbath. No TV, radio, tablets or phones are used by family members but prayer, Bible reading, physical and mental rest and family time emphasized. This happens every Friday evening and all day Saturday.

In America, we use Sunday, as our Sabbath but filled with travel, ball games, church activities and a little relaxation, little mental rest, little recoil from activity, and little family time. For the Pastor, Sunday is our busiest day. For bi-vocational Pastors, Sunday filled with church responsibilities, Monday through Friday is time spent on the job and Saturday is mowing, cleaning, visiting, studying, hospital calls, family activities and much, much more.

The Feast of the Sabbatical year, in the Old Testament, celebrated every seven years as a Sabbath for the land. (Leviticus 25:2). According to Exodus 23:11 and Leviticus 25:4 the surplus of the six previous years provided for the seventh year. It was a festival filled with food, celebration, and cessation of all field labour. All Hebrew servants are released and the public reading of the law was the highlight of the festivities (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

Drawing from these parallels the small church pastor should deem a sabbatical necessary every seven years, the local church should set funds aside for six years to pay for the Pastor’s sabbatical including his regular salary. The Pastor’s lodging, food, transportation and other expenses paid for by the church. There should be no work; no conference, no camp meeting, no preaching, no pastoral responsibilities.

Positioning: take a Bible, a writing pad, a devotional and a couple books.

Place: secluded and removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, a private and quiet area, with a scenic area to walk, meditate and pray.

Pastor: should not take the week, seven complete days, at least, to work on a sermon series but a time of evaluation, reflection, refreshing and rest. Remember this is not a vacation; plan a vacation with the family at another time.

Sabbath is a time God chooses to slow us down and bring us into spiritual and mental alignment with Him. God chose a six-day work week and a Sabbath as a time to rest, reflect and refresh. The Sabbath reminds us to “slow down,” admit our breakneck speed of doing God’s work by ourselves. A Sabbath is a time of personal evaluation of our limitations, fragility and our ability to hold everything in.

A friend of mine went on a seven-day sabbatical, he takes one yearly, to a mountain hike with several other men. The guide purposely plans every stop as a spiritual quest into the Pastor’s heart, mind, and life, regarding purity, manliness, heart contact with God, devotion, fatherhood, and husbandry.

A small church Pastor should outline the scriptures to present to the local church, expressing the importance of a Pastoral Sabbatical. Meet with the board about the payment of lodging, food, and transportation while explaining this is not a vacation. Practice a “personal revival.” An alone time with God, such as Moses’ three years in the desert, David’s years in the hills watching sheep, Jesus often went alone into the mountains to pray, and Paul was three years in the desert.

Pick a place for lodging having a beautiful view, private paths to walk, and enough food for the week. This is not a time for shopping, boating or mountain climbing but a few hikes, a little fishing or a picnic may be observed. Remember, the Sabbatical is to hear the voice of God, to be spiritually rejuvenating and to rest your mind from the exhaustion of stress.

Bless you and be sure and tell me about it when you get back.

The People of Israel Raising Children in a Bomb Shelter

Hvat* never wanted to live this day but in her mind, she has relived this day thousands of times. Waking in the darkness, hearing the sounds of exploding missiles, screams piercing the moment, and now, seeing the blood, too much blood.

IMG_2469Hvat* lives in Israel in a small village near the Gaza strip, raising a small family, “This is my home, I don’t want to move, I want to live here, this is my land and this is my people.”  She had mentioned that to leave would to give the terrorists a win,

Standing there with her, within two minutes of the Gaza Strip border, less than ½ mile, the air was tense. The sky was clear, the air was dry and two elementary aged boys were riding their bikes. It was an uneasy feeling. Just a few days before our arrival IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) found a tunnel laden with explosives, motorcycles and several Hamas terrorists.

Terrorists have sent as many as twelve laser guided missiles in one day, “No one ever forgets, it never goes away.” A missile struck a bus, where most of the school child had just unloaded the bus for home but the driver and one teenage boy weren’t so fortunate. Hvat* continues with tears, lots of tears even though that day, that grievous day, was two years ago. “No one ever forgets, it never goes away.”us day, was two years ago.

“No one ever forgets, it never goes away.”


Hurt feelings turned to compassion, many of the people in Palestine and Gaza are victims of Hamas terrorism just as we are. Her eyes are full of fear, her voice quivering, “I just want this to stop, for all of it to go away.”

It was a warm day, just like many days in the Southwestern part of the country of Israel. Just a few short miles to Egypt’s burning sands. The school was in session, concrete barriers were in place to help deter the attack of missiles. A weather balloon with a heat sensing camera monitors the area without much consolation.

Each bomb shelter received the artistic paint providing a stark contrast of fear with a mixture of hope.

Children have been trained and retrained, so much it has become a habit for most.

Children have learned to run for the bomb shelter. Hvat* looks out the window for a moment, “You may have 6 seconds to respond, twelve seconds would be considered a blessing. When the siren blows – you run. Several had an app on their phone telling them, not the weather or the news but the alert code. “You decide what pair of shoes to wear based on the intensity of the alert – if it is a high alert you wear something you can run in.” Tearfully she continues, “We painted the bomb shelters because we wanted to make this a better place.”shelters because we wanted to make this a better place.”

Bomb shelter near a playground

The paintings and the bomb shelters seemed to divide the consciousness, one of joy, the way life was meant to be and the other of desperation and fear. “You never know the next time terrorists may send a missile over, we are just two minutes away from the border. You really don’t have much time to get to the bomb shelter.” She tried to smile for the picture but it was brief.

Two children playing in the living room under a makeshift tent, their mother was too far from her children at the moment, unable to grab the children and run to safety in the 6-second warning. The missile hit in the nearby street, digging a crater hole, shrapnel flying through the air went through the wall of the house, striking the four-year-old boy. “When I got there he was covered in blood – her son was dead.”IMG_2456

Grieving mothers confess when you have multiple children you have to quietly and sincerely decide which child you will grab when the bomb siren goes off.

Michael’s* name is written as a memorable among a gripping list of others, upon the walls of concrete.

She softly cries again and those with us cried with her.

The hole in the wall of the house has been patched and the street repaired. The hot sun has faded the paint on each bomb shelter but the memories are as fresh as today.

Hvat* motioned with her hand, a gesture of despair, “Has anyone heard this story? Does anyone care?”


Yes, we have heard and yes, we care!


Have you hugged your child today? 


*This is a true story but the names were changed for security reasons and personal privacy.

**This is the first of a series of true life stories of the people of Israel


Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counseling or professional advice.


Highpoints Book Endorsements

Highpoints book has gone to print. Westbow publishers has announced they are taking HIGHPOINTS to the printer. I will receive a preview copy and soon Highpoints will go into mass production. Already Barnes and Noble, Target and Amazon are resellers and possibly, Christian Book Distributors (CBD). Early reviews have been received and we have a great lineup of endorsements.

Not everyone has experienced mountain climbing, but everyone has experienced falling and then fighting to get back up. Jim takes us from that point of crisis, through the climb, and to the summit. Keep climbing! Brandon Cox, Pastor of Grace Hills Church, Northwest Arkansas, Editor of

My wife and I have been agreeing in prayer for a special anointing upon the book leading them to their own personal Highpoints. We are growing, reaching and climbing together as we grasp Trust, Endurance, Faith; like we have never had it before. Highpoints includes stories of real life mountain climbers telling their stories of stamina, high risk danger and near death experiences. Coupled with tough choices and breathtaking scenery we will move from one mountain peak to the other with Biblical examples of Joseph, Moses, Jesus, Caleb and others.

Follow this blog closely for weekly information. For updates as they happen go to:



Comment: What do you think makes up a good endorsement?

Copyright by Jim Laudell.  Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Family Fun

The most bonding of all family events is having fun together. Laughing, throwing a ball, a picnic, vacation, surprise visit, birthday parties, and a long list of a lot more. We all stake our claim to busyness but we need some funny business going on in our family life.

Taking the children for a walk, a trip to the zoo, a children’s event, pizza or camping out in the living room are once in a lifetime events  children and families will remember forever. Take the camera or a video camera and get double the fun by doing popcorn and a video the following weekend. Turn off the TV, set your voicemail to pick up business after your trip out and have fun. One of the greatest investments we made was a condo on the lake that we frequent with our family. Skype the relatives that live a far distance from you and let the children visit with relatives you wouldn’t normally see very often.

Fun is spelled Forever – the time you will have will indelibly be etched in a child’s memory forever. Unique – the different, outlandish and sometimes, odd will make the most impact. Not expensive –  fun doesn’t have to cost very much. Look for the free or inexpensive family oriented events in your area. Make a list that can be referred to from time to time.

Let’s get started this weekend.

My favorite travel apps

I have stayed nearly fifteen nights in motel rooms, scheduled flights and have already put on thousands of miles traveling. Speaking at churches and conferences has given me the excitement of seeing old friends and meeting new people on a regular week by week basis. I have leaned most heavily on my iPad for speaking but also for the logistics of the trip.

First, I schedule using Google calendar. It is loaded on the cloud and is available On my computer at home, my laptop, my iPhone and of course, my iPad. The convenience of my wife being able to check my calendar while I am away is a timesaver and headache saver.

Secondly, I book my flight directly from the XNA airport, it lists all the available flights, schedules and local, pertinent information.

Thirdly, I use iFly. This app reveals the destination terminal map. Showing me what restaurants are available and where they are located, where the bathrooms are and the baggage claim area location.

Fourthly, the app Tripit has become a favorite. It keeps all my plans, confirmations and emails about the trip in one place.

Fifthly, my Starbucks app. When I need some Java to keep me going my Starbucks app gives me a map and proximity to the quickest cup of coffee and by loading my account, I can now pay with my iPhone.

Sixth, the Maps app that came with my iPad tells me where I am and how to get to the church, auditorium, or conference center. I also use Yelp for a little more detail.

Seventh, two apps I use together, the cloud on app keeps all my speaking notes in one place and handy for editing plus the Logos Bible with commentary, word studies and several devotional books. And if I want to read, iBooks was an iPad preinstall, I just load up the books I would like to read if time is available.

Eighth, the Urban spoon app locates restaurants in the proximity of your location, shows a menu, pricing, a few pictures and a map with directions and how far away it is. If you get off the plane and your hungry, this is the app to click.

My Favorite Places to Drink Coffee

Coffee is the spice of life. Not just for mornings anymore but from afternoon, to after dinner, coffee has been and continues to be the drink of choice. The aroma, a little cream and a friend and you have the makings of a wonderful morning. As I have always said, “A rainy day, a book and a cup of coffee go very well together.” Like vacation without the gas prices.

I have traveled to 35 states and 12 foreign countries and I would like to name three of my favorite coffee spots.

1. Close to home: Starbucks – Being a Gold Card member explains it but I like the coffee variety, Blonde Roast, Pikes Place and Breakfast Blend, tall, venti or grande, mocha or caramel, one shot espresso. The fact they are consistent and widely accessible when I travel makes it the perfect choice for a perfect cup of coffee. Plus, the Wifi and business setting allows me to get a little work done.

2. Atmosphere: Atmosphere places just as much a role in drinking coffee as the drink itself. I remember drinking coffee in a refurbished house located at the Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri on a Saturday afternoon, perched over the river. The sandwich has long left my memory but sitting on the patio overlooking Table Rock Lake on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with a cup of coffee in hand was a choice location. The coffee was good and the atmosphere great and has been a regular stop for my wife and I when in the Branson area.

3. Location: A unique location was why I ended up drinking an espresso and eating an amazing piece of pie at the Le Procope, named for owner Francesco Procopio in Paris, where Napoleon often drank his coffee, as well as, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The artsy appeal, architectural structure and nice hospitality made this unique spot the place to be. By the way, Napoleon liked his coffee sweetened and with milk.