For the past 24 hours I had the privilege of attending a Pastors (Teaching Elder) Retreat that the Committee on Ministry of our Presbytery organized. The Retreat was held at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake and coordinated by Richard Buller, pastor of Valley Community Presbyterian Church.
I was unsure about going until the very last minute. My wife, Amy, asked me on Sunday night if I was looking forward to the Retreat. “Yes,” I replied, “but there is part of me that would like to stay and get more work done.”
My sentiment is exactly why I and all pastors need a Retreat like this. The highlight of the time for me was being away and allowing myself to decompress for 24 hours at a beautiful setting.
I arrived at noon on Monday. I was fortunate to have lunch with Chaz & Janet Ruark—and we hardly even talked about our work! After lunch Deb De Meester shared some of her learnings about leadership. At the end of our session she encouraged us to reflect on and understand the images of leadership we carry with us right now. We had a long break where I was able to go for a long run. After a wonderful dinner at another resort, we enjoyed worship. Bill Davnie read some Psalms of Ascents, we sang some eventide hymns, and Chaz encouraged us to rest and relax—keep our stuff in order.
This morning we feasted at breakfast, spent more time talking about leadership, and then feasted at lunch. We had just the right mix of free time, learnings, worship, and food.
I’m encouraged that this Retreat could become a yearly event for our Presbytery. I don’t know of any Teaching Elder who doesn’t feel enormous stress in their ministry. We need to continue to build relationships with each other and be intentional about taking Sabbath. I’m glad I didn’t give into the temptation of doing more work. My soul is in a better place.