Two years into my twenty-year pastorate at the Oaklyn Baptist Church several of my colleagues — Bob Santilli, Frank Reeder, John Grove and Michael Feicht — invited me to come to a prayer retreat. It was one of the best things which has ever happened to me in ministry.
These friends stressed to me how, despite our best efforts, ministry can side-track us. Without realizing, they said, ministry will takes us away from one our primary calls as pastors — our call to spend time with God. “The urgent,” they said, “will always crowd out the important. Your ministry will be better for getting away to be with God. Make it a priority.”
I am glad I listened to them. Those times of prayer probably saved my call to ministry on more than one occasion.
As clergy, we call our people to Sabbath and to prayer. But we often fail to listen to our own advice. The truth is, if you and I are either too busy to pray or “too important” to break away from the demands of pastoral ministry then we are simply too busy!
“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” isn’t just a good text from which to preach. We need to come ourselves. Only when we draw from the well do we have anything to offer to others.
And so I extend the invitation to you which was extended to me so many years ago.
Come, join me at Harvey Cedars on January 29 & 30 for a twenty-four hour respite. We’ll visit with colleagues and share meals together. Most importantly, we’ll spend some time with Jesus.
And if you just need a place to take a nap, that’s also fine. Naps are encouraged!
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