Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Why Retreat?

From time to time, those who have pretty ordinary working lives look across at us clergy and wonder why it is necessary to take sabbaticals or go on retreat quite so regularly. 'Chance would be a fine thing', you almost hear them say.

Don't get me wrong. Retreat time as part of work is a privilege and not one I take for granted. I also get to worship and pray as part of my working life. Equally nice.

Someone once, in a fine evangelical sermon, used the example of the two biblical seas. The Sea of Galilee receives and gives and is alive; the Dead Sea only receives and is dead.

It reminded us all of the need to serve and be served if we want to live as Christians. I have met followers of Jesus who were out of kilter in both directions.

If you only give, only serve, especially as a preacher and teacher, you will soon not only dry up, but cease to exist. A sea that doesn't receive will soon be a place where the water used to be.

So I am away for a few days. I am with a friend who shares a comfort with the routine and timetable we have established over the years. We set aside times to talk - about what we are reading and about our ministries. We set times to eat and times to read and even a time to nap in the afternoon.

It is a luxury. But our churches would not want to experience us trying to minister without this six monthly half week away. It is not holiday. It is an investment in our being better by stepping back. To this end it would be a useful addition to the annual timetable of many senior leaders in industry. Stopping to think is not actually a luxury. It is a necessary. Many walks of life would be the better for those responsible having not just holiday, but thinking breaks.

You can often better reflect on your situation by getting out of it for a while. Get away.

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