Kids Ministry Collective

Kids Ministry Collective Podcast #53- Take a Sabbatical with John Tillman

January 7, 2019

KMC Podcast #53- Sabbaticals and Sabbaths New Year New You!

John Tillman

Welcome back to the KMC Podcast, this episode is part of the Getting Started Right series and part of getting started right in a new year or new ministry is to make sure you are leading yourself well. Most people in ministry I encounter where Tired as a badge of honor and while they know its a problem, don’t seem too concerned enough to change. I feel God is prompting me more and more to call out our ministry leaders and say, we need to lead better by leading ourselves better. We MUST take care of our health, and our souls better in 2019 if we are going truly make an impact for the kingdom.

So I recently read a blog post from my friend John Tillman about Chance the rapper who declared to all the world he was taking a sabbatical to study the Bible-

Welcome to the Podcast John

John Tell me about the article and what you learned about Chance the Rapper?

I was struck by how Chance was so honest, recognizing that he couldn’t teach his new nephew about faith if he didn’t know the Bible. He was willing to admit his need and do something radical to address it. His intention and faith seem genuine and I thought that there were some smart things about what he did that we could learn from.

Ok, so in the blog you point out three great points about his sabbatical plan, I’d like to chat about those-


1 He had an outward, behavioral goal-  Why was that so striking to you?

Chance has been open about regretting his addiction to cigarettes. He has engaged in a fast from smoking, intending to make it a permanent lifestyle change.

A sabbatical should be different from other times. One way to help mark the time as different, sacred, is to make a physical, tangible, measurable change in diet or activity.

When you undertake a sabbatical, consider adding a fast of some kind and adding an activity that is out of your norm. Do something physical, tangible, and measurable to mark the time as different.

  1. He had a personal knowledge goal

Chance admitted that he was raised in faith and believed, but he had never read the Bible and wanted to increase his familiarity with it. He also has read from widely varied Christian authors such as Tim Keller and John Baillie.

When you engage in a sabbatical, direct engagement with God through the scriptures and prayer should be your primary focus. However, consider adding to your sabbatical some other reading. When choosing reading material for a sabbatical, resist the urge to read that best seller by that famous Christian author or pastor whom you already follow on Twitter. Reach farther. Instead of reading the pastor you already like, read the guy he learned from. Then read the guy that guy learned from.

Another direction would be to try reading outside your usual disciplines. Instead of reading theology, read about data science, or gaming theory, or design thinking, or marketing, or creative solutions in the marketplace.

  1. He Had a generational goal
  2. The inspiration for Chance’s sabbatical journey is ministry to the next generation. In the post announcing his intentions, Chance shared a video of him holding his nephew. Chance’s intention in all of his learning and study is to give his nephew “knowledge and tools.”

Jesus taught that the Sabbath, and by extension sabbaticals, are for us. But that doesn’t mean that they only focus on our personal needs. Jesus came out of his recorded sabbatical times with power, purpose, and vision for his ministry. So can you.

When you enter a sabbatical, have a goal related to how you will pass on, how you will act on, and how you will lead based on what you learn or experience.

A helpful tool for this would be to pray a Prayer of Examen. This prayer is a moment designed to refocus our lives and re-tune our hearts and souls. It is an opportunity to reflect, to find God in our midst, and to assess our motives, desires, struggles, and opportunities. For more on the Prayer of Examen see this short guide from The Park Forum.

Tiny Sabbaticals- Ok, now before we get into some practical ideas of how we can apply this idea. Lets talk the concept of sabbatical, because I already hear the listener saying, sure John, I don’t have the money like Chance, I don’t have the time like Chance, I can’t do a sabbatical.  I don’t have time, I don’t have money, I don’t really know how i would?

What would you say? What can a sabbatical look like? What should one plan to include in it?







You don’t have to go long distances, stay a long time, or spend much money to engage in the practice of sabbaticals. Instead of going somewhere far away go somewhere close. Jesus recommended prayer in a closet. Find a “closet” that is close to home that you can hide away in. It could be a literal closet, a church member’s lake house, a friend’s home out of town, or a neighborhood coffee shop or bookstore with a comfortable chair.

Take an afternoon. Take a day. Take a weekend. Sit. Read. Walk. Pray. It’s that simple and that complicated.

So let’s go back and make some ministry related application- for a leader who’s been struggling with IF they should design a sabbatical plan.

Outward Goals- what should a leader have as outward goals?

Anything different than the norm. Don’t do something you normally do. Do something that you don’t normally do.

Stop playing a game you usually play. Stop reading a social media site you normaly read.

Walk instead of sit. Take the stairs. Walk in a park. Add something new. Take a class. Try new recipes.

Knowledge Goals- what do these look like?

Again, step outside your norm. Do and learn something that will expand your knowledge, not just lead you to the same sources for the same answers you already get anyway.

Read the Bible.

Read about new technologies.

Read a first century theologian.

Read a reformation scholar.

Read someone outside your denominational affiliation.

Generational Goals- what and why are these so important?

Learn, rest, and work with the purpose in mind of passing on the benefit.

Pray at the beginning seeking a purpose. Pursue it during your sabbatical. Then look back at the end, asking God to help you see. What changed? What did you learn? Should you slow down? Speed up? Change course?

Pass it on;

So to wrap this up- Why should a person listening to this start today and schedule and make a sabbatical plan?


1-Start weekly and daily. Start small. God says, don’t despise small beginnings. God says be faithful in a little. Start by having a sabbath each week. And having a time of prayer, reading, and reflection each day. Distraction and overwork that prevent us from doing this are problems of value. We don’t properly value the sabbath. Otherwise, we wouldn’t miss it. Like the tithe that has to come out of your bank account first, take your sabbath out of the week first.

2-Plan larger times. Put it on the calendar and tell people about it. Tell your spouse. Tell your boss. Tell your friends. It’s okay to broadcast it.

3-Go small before you go big. Don’t plan a month long sabbatical if you’ve never taken an afternoon. Get humble and do what you can achieve. Through this your ability to plan and execute improves.

Wrap Up- John tell us about where your writings are posted and how people can subscribe-


The Park Forum

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