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Fact Checked

What is a Sabbatical?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

It’s easy to see that the word sabbatical bears relationship to Sabbath and Shabbat. Understanding the connection helps to understand the definition. Sabbath and Shabbat are religiously defined breaks in the Judeo-Christian tradition dating back to the call for a day of rest once weekly. Sabbatical takes this concept further and can be a period of rest, or more often work, that might continue for a year long or longer.

There are certain professions in which sabbaticals are common. In the university system, college professors with tenure can have rights to take a sabbatical every seven to ten years upon application. Note that in the seven-year arrangement, there is still comparison to resting on the seventh day.

Tenured college professors may be eligible to take a sabbatical every seven to ten years.
Tenured college professors may be eligible to take a sabbatical every seven to ten years.

In many colleges, people receive full pay for the time they take off, which may exceed or be less than a year. Since the university supports this leave, a job is not in danger when a sabbatical is taken. Instead the employer and employee agree on its necessity.

What a professor might do on a sabbatical may depend on how the university interprets the leave. Some see it as a break time where teachers refuel and avoid becoming burned out in their profession. Others see this time as an opportunity to learn more so they have more to offer the university in which they work.

A sabbatical is often used by a college professor to acquire more knowledge through the act of taking classes or research to benefit the college he or she works for.
A sabbatical is often used by a college professor to acquire more knowledge through the act of taking classes or research to benefit the college he or she works for.

Thus, the sabbatical could involve research, taking classes, traveling, completing work for publication or other things. Most often, though this break is considered “time off,” it’s really not a vacation or an idle time. It’s used to acquire more knowledge to benefit both the teacher and the college in which he/she works.

While the sabbatical is most often associated with college professors, there are other professions where this break could be offered to employees, especially those employees who have worked a certain amount of years. It’s not uncommon for religious leaders like priests, rabbis, imams, and ministers to occasionally be offered a sabbatical. This, again, could be more than a break, and might be used for the purpose of studying or for spiritual reflection.

Professors often conduct field research at remote sites during a sabbatical.
Professors often conduct field research at remote sites during a sabbatical.

Many other professions view sabbaticals as potentially positive things, even though they may cost money upfront for a company. Paying an employee for up to a year’s non-work can be expensive, but some employers feel that it is ultimately a savings. If an employee comes back from a break rejuvenated and full of new ideas, the employer could really benefit. Moreover, in some professions, full pay isn’t offered, and the employer merely guarantees the employee’s job will be held for him or her during the period of leave.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

cmsmith10

@christym- There are several benefits to your pastor taking a sabbatical. Many pastors consider a sabbatical to be a time to refocus on their ministry and focus on spiritual growth.

Many church organizations offer pastors a sabbatical every three to five years. Often times, the congregations will take up an offering throughout the year to contribute to their pastor’s sabbatical.

The pastor, depending on the church, will likely present a written outline or plan for their proposed sabbatical and present it to the church council. Most of the time, the pastor will receive their full salary during their sabbatical.

christym

How does a pastoral sabbatical normally work?

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    • Tenured college professors may be eligible to take a sabbatical every seven to ten years.
      By: diego cervo
      Tenured college professors may be eligible to take a sabbatical every seven to ten years.
    • A sabbatical is often used by a college professor to acquire more knowledge through the act of taking classes or research to benefit the college he or she works for.
      By: Syda Productions
      A sabbatical is often used by a college professor to acquire more knowledge through the act of taking classes or research to benefit the college he or she works for.
    • Professors often conduct field research at remote sites during a sabbatical.
      By: Matteo Gabrieli
      Professors often conduct field research at remote sites during a sabbatical.
    • Sabbaticals allow professors to unwind from the stress of teaching.
      By: DenisNata
      Sabbaticals allow professors to unwind from the stress of teaching.