I was away at a ministers’ retreat recently.  It’s a study group retreat, which means that there’s some serious study stuff going on, which is good and important, but I discovered some things that were much more important while I was away on retreat.

The big thing about a retreat is that it really should be a retreat. Once I was on a board of trustees retreat, and we had so much stuff on the agenda that we referred to it as “the forced march” when we returned.  A retreat shouldn’t leave you feeling more drained than when you left.

We were in West Virginia. That doesn’t matter particularly. I mean, you can have a retreat in New York or Idaho. It’s more about being someplace that’s not in the middle of our own stuff. So we were in a state park in West Virginia. The food was terrible, and the beds were…well, they were. But that was fine. That wasn’t the point. The point was being away. And it was quite beautiful.

Then there was the whole thing of being with colleagues. That was a really big thing. Because this is a thing about ministry – you always have to be “on.” I mean, you pretty much always have to be the pastor wherever you are. A friend just mentioned to me that she’d gone 30 miles away to eat and saw a congregant in the restaurant.  You’re always the minister. So when we get together, just us, it really is just us. That’s SO important.

It’s nice to be able to relax. And yet, people still have the capacity to be pastoral to one-another when necessary.  That’s important too.

For me, just entering professional ministry, it was nice to have all the mentoring, too. There was a lot of that. Mentoring is important.

So I went. I got revived a bit. I worshipped with my colleagues. A lot. I got to let my hair down. I got mentored, and I also got to catch up with some of my fellow interns. I probably learned some stuff, too.

I think this is the nicest bunch of people I’ve ever worked with. I’m so glad to have them as my colleagues. I’m so grateful to have been welcomed by them. And I’m grateful for the reminder to step back, to retreat, every now and again.


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