It’s Spring break time for many people during March and April…a time to get away from normal life and take a break. Life Lesson 6 in this series is all about taking personal retreats. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But it’s never easy. If we do not intentionally find ways of “retreating” we can become overwhelmed and face the possibility of burn out.
5 Minute Breaks
What does it mean to retreat? It really depends on what is going on in your life at any given time, but for a leader, I think it means that at some point we need to take a short time out from “being in charge”. What I mean by that is take 5 minutes to just relax, focus on something beautiful in nature, or even a cat nap! Perhaps it is something as simple as taking a short walk down the hall or street from your office. (Boy, am I preaching to myself here!) Days I spend hours in the computer, writing and/or doing email for instance, I tend to not stop for breaks unless absolutely essential. What I find is that my brain is really fried by the end of the day. How much more effective to take scheduled breaks away to refresh and then come back to the task, not to mention probably much more productive and creative!
A Few Hours
But what about an hour here or there as well? Do you ever sit outside just to read non-work/ministry related material, or just sit and read nothing? In the spring, I can’t wait for the longer days and warmer weather so that I can do that for a short time after work (not every day, but I try to do it more than once a week). I also enjoy sudoku and crossword puzzles, or just putting my ear phones on to listen to worship music on my Ipod to relax. On Saturday mornings that I am in town, one of the things I always try to do is spend the morning on the deck with the paper and coffee…before the errands and other “to do” list items for the weekend.
In addition to short periods of time, do you ever take a real vacation? It doesn’t have to be an expensive far away place, but someplace special that makes you relax. For me it has to be away from the house or it’s truly not a vacation.
My husband and I love the beach where we have our “real” retreat for the year. Last year, due to job change, my husband didn’t get a vacation so we did not get our beach trip in and how I missed it. That is the one week I do very little that is strenuous except for walking for hours on the beach hunting for the daily “treasure”…a special shell of some sort that out shines all others I’ve found that day. The rest of the time I lay on the beach or the balcony watching the beach. The biggest decision of the day is where to have dinner. I spend unhurried time in the morning with the Lord, reflecting, listening, and journaling. I read Christian fiction more than leadership or ministry related books. Throughout the day I watch for and enjoy His creation in the waters of the gulf, seashells, dolphins, gulls and pelicans, sunshine, and even the roar of the waves. I actually start “vegging” out when our car is heading south on I-65 after leaving our home!
For others it could be a state park, camping in a tent (NOT me!), or some other special place where you can really relax. Find what works for you, what helps you forget for a short period of time the ongoing daily demands and responsibilities you live with most of the year. As you spend time letting your body replenish, your soul soak Him up unhurriedly, and your mind rest rather than continually filling it with new information, you become ready once again to engage the real world of life, family, ministry and community.
Much as I’d love to go the beach once a month, that’s not possible…so I brought the beach to my home. Our bedroom and bath, as well as our ½ bath are all done totally in “beach”! Soft greens, cream, and yellow, shells, palm trees and tropical furniture greet me each time I walk in. A “wave” machine plays continually as a reminder of sleeping at the beach with the windows open, and soft music is piped in. Helps me take a deep breath even after a very difficult work day…or week! I even have a “beach corner” in my office as work! Find something that works for you and make that a part of your home or office.
Jesus told His disciples, “’Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while.’ For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” Mark 6:31 If Jesus and His disciples needed time away from the crowds and busy-ness of life, sure we do as well.
What do you do to “take a retreat” for 5 minutes, a few hours or a day, or for a week? Share your ideas with us.
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