(Three Reasons Every Ministry Leader Must Retreat
For most pastors or ministry leaders the idea of taking a retreat is a dream not a reality. We often say, “I need a break, but I can’t take time away.” How many times have you said that? I know I’d be a very wealthy man if I had a dime for everything I’ve said to myself.
We have come to believe that we cannot afford to take breaks, although we might schedule one week of vacation here and there. Why has this become the norm. Why won’t Pastor’s and ministry leaders take retreats?
I want share a few reasons why you MUST consider and make plans to take a spiritual retreat for yourself.
Reason 1– If you are going to be a person of solid character and competence you must be intentional about working on your spiritual life. Without this kind of focus you will be susceptible to many things.
Carey Nieuwhof in his book “Didn’t See it Coming” says this: “First of all, you need to understand that it is not selfish to put yourself first when it comes to personal growth. Which is more egocentric: to compromise again and again until your family and your coworkers distrust you or take time every day to become a person of deep integrity and honor?” (pg 57)
Working on yourself means we must focus on our hearts. So I ask you, “How’s your heart?” When is the last time you’ve allowed time for the Spirit of God to look deeply into it?
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23,24 NIV
If you don’t take time to work on your heart, you are opening a door for failure in so many areas. Your heart is the key to staying in ministry for the long haul. The enemy knows this all too well and will attack where you are vulnerable.
When I take time to retreat and allow the Spirit to examine me I can see what He sees and allow him to fix my spiritual armor so there are no gaps.
Restoring Leaders is a ministry I have launched to work on just this very thing. I invite leaders to step aside for a few days to make room for God to work on our hearts. To restore them so that we can stand strong against the enemy.
Our hearts are our epicenter, the center of the power-source. They are our core and we must do all we can to protect, nurture and strengthen them. If we let them run dry, just like a rechargeable battery that is neglected. After a while it won’t accept a charge.
If you don’t take time to retreat, you can’t charge!
Second reason to Retreat: You have to guard your bucket! It’s another name for your soul. Lance Whitt in his book, Replenish describes your soul is like a bucket and here’s his explanation. “ I have learned there are two forces at work that will put holes in your bucket and drain out the life. First, there are external forces. The seduction of leaders, the grind of ministry, the brokenness of our culture, and the pace of twenty-first-century life create an environment in which it’s very challenging to stay healthy at the soul level.” (pg. 25
If we don’t guard our buckets they can be punctured and begin to drain. Sometimes we don’t notice the holes. Sometimes the hardship of ministry punctures a hole and it hurts. We feel those and they really do hurt. We try to patch the bucket and keep going but either the patch gives way from another rub or it gets punctured the same way, but makes a bigger hole.
When we don’t take time to fix our buckets correctly a patch will truly only be temporary and when we think it will last for a long time, we endanger ourselves and those around us. What does this look like in ministry?
We will be wounded by something someone says or does and we’ll patch it with the “I’m fine or I’m ok” patch. We say these words and we slap the “patch” on the bucket but we know that it really won’t stick. That wound is real and personal. The disappointment that the event wasn’t attended well or the Sunday schedule still has so many blanks on Friday and Sunday is coming so fast.
I’m OK or I’m FINE, patches don’t hold on a bucket that is filled to the rim. They will give way from the pressure on the inside and leak out in the form of discouragement or depression.
When a leader stops and retreats it allows God the Father to bring healing and to speak. He’s the master craftsman and can put the bucket together so that the holes don’t leak. He can repair and strengthen the gaps so that you can fill and minister out of the overflow.
Retreating gives him time to fill your bucket and restore your soul.
We see examples in Scripture of Jesus taking care of himself and retreating to both rest and spend time with God the Father. He set the example for us to follow and if we think we cannot take time, I’d lovingly say, you have a pride problem, you have a priority problem, and you are endangering your soul.
I have been guilty of these crimes too. I used to say, I can’t take time, I have too much to do or I don’t have anyone to give these things to. I can’t afford to go away. Yes, I had a pride, priority problem and my soul paid the price. By the time I did stop, my spiritual bucket had so many holes that only God could repair it, no temporary patches would ever hold.
Restoring Leaders offers retreats to allow you to let God repair your bucket. You will have time to sit down with other leaders who’s buckets have holes and together you get to experience the master repairman doing his perfect work in your soul. The retreats are designed to give you time to also learn skills to keep your bucket in good repair.
The third and final reason you need to retreat is because to run a good race as a pastor or ministry leader you need to rest and renew your earthly mind and body.
Have you seen the statistics about Pastors in the Ministry?
- 1 in 10 will retire in ministry
- 54% find the role of pastor/ministry leader overwhelming.
- 57% of pastors feel fulfilled but yet discouraged, stressed, and fatigued.
- 84% of pastors desire to have close fellowship with someone they can trust and confide with.
- 52% of pastors feel overworked and cannot meet their church’s unrealistic expectations.
If you want to see more check out this website
When we are overwhelmed, stressed, discouraged etc. we will not rest well. We will not lead well. We all know you can burn a candle at both ends but it won’t last as long as it was intended to last. If you are not taking care of yourself you will not be as creative or as energetic as you need to be to lead the ministry you are called to lead.
Our minds and bodies need time to stop and rest. Again, what does Scripture say? In Psalm 46:10, “ BE STILL, and know that I AM GOD!” again I love how Lance Whitt hits this principle. “ To look at most pastors or ministry leaders, you would think the verse said, “Be busy, and now that you are productive.” (pg.62)
Do you brag about how busy you are and how tired you are in the same breath? We do that when we gather at conferences we attend with other ministry leaders. I once sat with a group of leaders and it felt like we were playing a game of who can one up everyone else with a story of just how close to burnout we are. Yes, I was playing right along. I had some doozies of stories too! I was a hot mess!
It’s time to stop this sickness inside the church. It’s time to stop waiting for the next conference so I can take some “vacation” while attending. This has to stop.
Restoring Leaders was given to me by God to help leaders take time regularly and step away to rest their minds and their bodies. To have time to stop being a pastor or a ministry leader and just BE a follower of Jesus. To rest, to laugh, to restore their minds so they can think like Jesus.
I want to give you a challenge if you’re still reading this far. Will you take a moment and look at your calendar? How full is it, too full to take a few days away?
I would encourage you to join the mailing list for Restoring Leaders and be watching for the upcoming retreat dates and locations. Pick one and put it on your calendar to attend. Can’t or don’t want to travel? Join an upcoming Online Retreat group where we can still do much of the heart, soul, and mind work just from your home location. We’ll give you tips for you to maximize and unplug just like an in-person retreat.
You cannot afford to run the risk of burnout or worse. There is too much at risk and the world needs you to be the best version of yourself. God desires it for you too!
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