Got The Clergy Sabbatical Grant Blues?

It’s not about the money–well, maybe it is.

OK.  You have a sabbatical policy at your church.  You are ready to start planning your first ministry sabbatical.  You have your congregation’s blessing to take a sabbatical, but the funding is up to you.  No problem, you’ll just go to a foundation that distributes clergy sabbatical grants and tell them all your wonderful plans.

I am not about to discourage you at this point.  Please, by all means, move on with your proposal.

For now, let’s skip any speculation about the “odds” that your proposal will be accepted or rejected.  Instead, let’s just say that it might be prudent to have a back-up plan.  And ask yourself, “What am I going to do, if my sabbatical grant application is passed over by the grant selection committee?  Would that mean that my aspiration for a sabbatical was ill-advised?”

Well, first of all, remember the time-worn maxim: It is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.  Feel better?  Maybe not.  So, what about that back-up plan idea?

Here’s a thought.  Ever hear of those people who swap homes so they can travel on a budget they can afford?  They do something called a “home exchange.”

A home exchange is where you live in my home while I live in yours.  Each of us pays our usual mortgage payments and utitities bills and so on.  But, someone else is looking after my home while I am staying in their home.  And both of us have rent-free lodging.

Could a home exchange solve your clergy sabbatical grant blues?  In fact, what if you negotiated a home exchange before you even began the grant application process?  Do you think you might feel empowered to withstand some bad news that, “There just wasn’t enough money for all the worthy grant proposals we received”?

And what do you have to lose if you hear the happy news that your grant application was approved?  Nothing.  It’s like you heard from two foundations.

You made the home exchange the “foundation” (pun intended!) for your sabbatical–and granted yourself an affordable sabbatical in the process.

Plus, you’ve heard from another “foundation” that they want to give you another grant as well.  In your heart of hearts you knew you weren’t entitled to this other foundation’s money.  But, should that become available to you? It is a gift–it’s all “Grace.”  Now there’s a happy thought for a clergy person to ponder!

So, take my advice.  Get off the merry-go-round.  Don’t be a victim of a grant selection committee–or your own feelings of entitlement. Weave a home exchange into your plans for your sabbatical.  Skip the clergy sabbatical grant blues.