I'm nearly done with my June sabbatical from the church and I've discovered it has been invaluable (although only time will tell what further reaching effects it will have). As a part of my time on sabbatical I have been intentional about several different projects: Master's thesis work and Pastoral enhancement.
I spent seven days in the beginning of the month writing my thesis up in Canada with no distractions or family. It was not only refreshing to get away by myself, but I was able to hammer out 65 pages on my thesis. Now I feel like I'm on track for finishing it well.
I also have taken the weekends to visit with pastors in rural/semi-rural communities who have been ministering in their churches for over 10 years now. I have picked up a number of very helpful tips both for church and personal enhancement.
I've also managed to read three books on different preaching techniques (Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson [which I've read parts of the original volume before]; Preaching Re-Imagined by Doug Pagitt; and Finding the Plot by Roger Standing) as well as another book about resting titled: "For God's Sake Rest!" (thanks for this last one, Dave I. :-) ). I have found these to be wonderfully helpful in thinking through several areas of my current ministry and what I might do better in the future.
Lastly I'm driving to Springfield, MO for the Faith and Science Conference (hosted by the Assemblies of God) which promises (according to the list of presenters and topics I just received) to be very beneficial and enlightening for my thesis work on "The Meaning and Significance of Yom in Genesis 1: Theological Reflections".
I figured I would share what I've been up to for this sabbatical and just encourage other pastors who've served their communities for 7 or more years to seriously consider taking a sabbatical that is planned out. What would you do if you received a sabbatical within the next year?