This past May, I took a month long sabbatical. It was a huge blessing for me and my family. I wrote about some of the biggest benefits a few days ago here.

Before I went on my sabbatical, I connected with other leaders who had already been on one to get their tips and advice on how to get the most out of mine.

The following is a list of tips and hacks I believe will be a great benefit when YOU take yours:

1. Plan a Trip at the beginning
It was a lot easier for me to “shut it down” so to speak since we were able to get away at the very start. I wasn’t just sitting around at home going crazy. When I did return, it was more about relaxing and recovering from our trip.

2. Remove email from your phone and have someone on your team change the password
Nothing keeps you connected to the constant drip like email. Remove the temptation to check in.

3. Buy a $12 flip phone from Walmart
I got a burner phone so only close friends and family could contact me. It cost $12 for the phone and $30 for one month of unlimited text and talk. No monthly plan and pretty straightforward.

4. Have a member of your team monitor your email while away
They can contact you if there is a true emergency

5. Have a member of your team answer any non-essential emails while you are away
This was a gift. When I returned, I only had 20 emails to respond to. My first few days back in office were very low stress because of this one thing.

6. Read a fiction book
I found if I read leadership or business books while away I just kept getting new ideas and that kept my wheels turning.

7. Spend your devotional time in book of Psalms
Great advice from my business coach. Kept me from getting new sermon series ideas and just focused on praising the Lord.

8. Book your flights as soon as you commit to a sabbatical
Get a trip on the calendar so you can plan and save accordingly.

Social Media Dangers Pastors Face

9. Have your spouse change your social media passwords
I didn’t have access to Facebook or Instagram while away. It was glorious.

10. Buy Visa gift cards
Get small and large increments and use them for your events activities. Your sabbatical can be more expensive than a normal month so make sure you stock up.

11. Schedule a bi-weekly 15 minute check-in call with 1-2 members of your team
Checking in briefly can give you peace of mind. It did for me.

12. Create a Sabbatical bucket list
I didn’t get everything crossed off this, but it gave us a lot of things to. We built our list for a few months as we planned.

13. Sleep Late (at least a few times)

14. Use Rev Recorder
It’s an app for your phone and it will record your thoughts or ideas while you are away. You can also have your audio transcribed for $1 per minute using the app.

15. Plan a mini trip/weekend towards the end of your sabbatical
Towards the end you will start to feel a little antsy. Plan a short trip the week before your sabbatical ends. Give yourself 1-2 to recover before jumping back into things.

16. Take lots of photos and use the Mosaic App
It’s a pretty cool app to upload photos from your phone and create a quick album to be shipped to you.

17. Plan Your Sabbatical to be at least one month long
Mine was a month long. Next year, I am going to do 6 weeks. If you can do more, do more.

18. Binge watch a tv series with your spouse
Late nights binge watching tv with my wife was awesome.

19. Schedule some time away from kids
You are going to really enjoy time with your family but having some time for you and your spouse away from the kids will be very nice as well.

20. Take a road trip (scenic route)
I have never enjoyed a road trip so much because we set out just to take a drive and enjoy the scenery.

21. Give Yourself and your team plenty of time to prepare
Having a successful sabbatical has more to do than just taking time off. There needs to be some planning and intentionality into your time away. It’s still okay to leave room to be spontaneous and just do whatever you feel like on some days as well.


About the author

Justin has been a church leader and entrepreneur for the past 14 years. He has a passion for serving the local church and has done so in various full-time and part time roles. Today he leads a ministry focused team in creating resources and platforms that help pastors.

Follow him on Twitter, @JustinTrapp