Professional ministry can be draining and ministry
leaders often let their own time with God slip through the cracks.
Here's a guide for spending a few hours alone with
It's time to kick back and do nothing but be renewed. Schedule a
few hours for just you and God.
Location is key. Get away to a park or someplace where you can
totally unwind. If you must stay in a familiar surrounding, such as
your home, thoroughly isolate yourself. Unplug the phone and
television; make arrangements for the kids and don't let the
doorbell interrupt you.
Pack a healthy snack, such as a water bottle, fruit, and nuts.
Take this article, a Bible, a pen, and a notepad. Blessed are those
who plan to take a walk for part of their retreat! Wear loose
clothing and good support shoes. Prepare yourself on the way to
your retreat site by listening to praise music.
The Apostle Paul challenges us to follow his example as he
follows the example of Christ. The purpose of this personal
spiritual retreat is to help you follow Christ's example of getting
away for rest and renewal. Christ knew he needed to get away from
it all now and then to be able to withstand the pressures and
stress of ongoing ministry. The four areas of your life that this
retreat will focus on are mental, physical, social, and
Mental -- Although Jesus was fully God, he was
also fully human. We forget that Jesus often learned the same way
we do-by reading, observing, and interacting with people. In John 15:15, Jesus explains to his disciples:
"for everything that I learned from the Father I have made known to
you." Jesus admits that God regularly taught him.
Dive into a little R and R-not just Rest and Relaxation-but
Reflection and Reaction. If it helps, take a walk. Meditate on the
- What have you recently learned from God? What new insights can
you praise God for in your life?
- Read Philippians 4:8. Think about each word in this
verse. For each word, think of things in your life that would fit
that category. Enjoy having your mind crammed with good
- Sing praise songs to God. Or write a poem or letter of
thanksgiving to God.
- Jot down one way to mentally recharge yourself-on a regular
basis-that you can do when you get back to your daily routine; for
example, you may read a book, take a class, or listen to tapes in
Physical -- Like us, Jesus experienced every
physiological need. For instance, once he was so exhausted that he
slept soundly in a small boat at sea during a violent storm. In
contrast to the pictures of Jesus we often see, his human body
didn't come equipped with a halo!
- Read Mark 6:30-32. How are you getting the
necessary rest you need-the same "rest" Jesus required of the
apostles? How can you plan to get this rest daily? Brainstorm ideas
for weekly, monthly, and annual getaways with your family, a good
friend, or by yourself.
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. What does it mean that
your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? What things in your life
would make the Holy Spirit uncomfortable to live within you? What
can you do to change those things?
- Eat the snack you prepared. With each bite, praise the Lord for
food. Thank God for your health and physical strength. Sense God's
presence within you!
Social -- Jesus enjoyed getting away from the
crowds, but he also enjoyed a good party. Jesus went to banquets,
weddings, parties, and more. He was even condemned for how much fun
he liked to have-as though fun is unholy!
- Read John 2:1-12. What social gatherings do you
attend? How often in the last few months have you been too busy to
do anything except children's ministry? How do you connect with
friends on a regular basis?
- Jesus traveled with a cadre of people. Who are the people on
your ministry team? Who's on your support team-people who pray for
and encourage you? Thank God for these individuals by name. How can
you strengthen your relationship with these people? If you don't
have a team, who are people you could ask to join you?
- Identify one or two people from your team and plan to have
lunch with these people this week. Let them know how important they
are to you.
Spiritual -- In Luke 2:52, we see the big picture of Jesus'
growth: "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in
favor with God and men." From childhood, Jesus kept growing in his
relationship with God the Father. Jesus spent tons of quality time
in prayer, conversing with God and seeking him.
- Read Psalm 91. Focus on God. Meditate on the ways
that he has been at work in your life, your family, and your
ministry. Thank God for the ways he has guided you, protected you,
and walked with you through the good and bad times in the last few
- Read Mark 9:14-29. What are your current question
marks of faith? List each question or doubt. Be honest before God.
Seek God's wisdom for your struggles. Note anyone God may bring to
mind for you to get advice from later.
- Read Philippians 2:1-18. After each verse, ask the
Holy Spirit to help you evaluate whether these characteristics are
true of you or not. If not, ask God to build these things into your
- Read Philippians 4:4. What recent times of joy in
the Lord can you recall? Thank God for these times. How has this
joy caused you to grow spiritually? What things rob you of joy? How
can you rejoice in the Lord always?
- Thank God for meeting with you today. Plan a date and time for
your next retreat.
Ron Habermas is a professor of biblical studies in Arkansas.
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