I Had No Idea I Was So Tired!
Lynn Mercer (Pleasant Hill, OH)
I recently returned from a week-long spiritual retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico followed by the Brethren Pastors and Spouses Retreat in Phoenix, Arizona, plus a few vacation days with family in Dallas, Texas. As I told those present at our congregational business meeting recently,
“I had no idea I was so tired! I think I came back with more life than I’ve had since Glen died.”
Our son Glen died in July of 2008, near the end of his education at Ashland Theological Seminary. It was a sudden, unexpected death. He had epilepsy. His death sucked the very life right out of me.
Oh, I’ve taken vacation time. I’ve been on other spiritual retreats, but this extended three weeks away did more for me than I could have imagined! My energy level is back!
Pastors don’t have to lose a loved one to become exhausted.
A church member recently stated, “I think of a pastor’s life being like that of a farmer’s; on call 24/7!” Yes, there are always more things to do in a day than there are hours to get them done. The stress, the pressure, the spoken and unspoken expectations, and the anxiety that goes with full-time ministry can be overwhelming!
The deacons at Pleasant Hill First Brethren Church graciously offered me an extra week of spiritual retreat in 2012.
I would encourage all congregations to offer spiritual retreat to their pastors and I strongly encourage pastors to take it!
On the Sunday morning before I left, I told the congregation what was going to be happening. I also notified them in a newsletter article. If you don’t tell them what’s happening, some people may think that you and your spouse are having marital problems. Just tell them what’s going on! If anyone in the congregation has a problem with your being gone that long, you’ll have others in the congregation who will defend you.
While on an intentional spiritual retreat you’ll have the time to position yourself to nurture a deeper relationship with the Lord. You’ll have time to pray, read, reflect, journal, rest, relax, and refocus. When you return, the people back home will likely notice the difference!
Although you may know others who have experienced different retreat locations, you may choose to contact one of the following:
Broom Tree Ministries provides five day spiritual retreats for pastors and their spouses, free of charge, in either Michigan or Wisconsin. You can reach Dwayne or Rita Hanon at broomtreeminisries.org. They do provide a self-directed guide that has no schedule other than directed conversation around the dinner table with other couples.
A Quiet Place is located near Bryantsville, KY. Rick and Teresa Jenkins offer a retreat facility for full time Christian workers. You may attend with or without your spouse. You can reach them at agaperetreat.org. They offer a five day, self-directed spiritual retreat, free of charge.
Inn Keeper Ministries, located in Lewisburg, Ohio, offers free of charge housing for those in Christian ministry. Bob and Jan Hartenstein can be reached at innkeeperministries.org.
Feel free to contact me if you have specific questions about housing, meals, etc.
These intentional times of spiritual retreat are not vacation. It is a work assignment. Studies have shown that healthy churches and ministries are marked by stability and longevity in their leadership. There is great value in granting those in leadership spiritual retreat time. The hope is that at the end of the retreat, you’ll feel refreshed and more closely connected with the Lord, ready to continue serving with a renewed spirit.
In the NEW DAY in The Brethren Church, we’ve been talking about transformed leaders. This is one way to help those in Christian ministry to position ourselves to be transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ!
If your leaders are too busy doing ministry to get away and hear from God well, they are too busy! If you value your pastors, please consider offering retreat and sabbatical opportunities for them to be refreshed and strengthened while they allow the Spirit to lead them.