A grandma eating 4 spoonfuls of baby food. Uno. An Alpha-Bits Cereal spelling contest. A beautiful time of sharing and praying together. Hours of Spoons. Jenga. Waking up and looking out over the ocean from a balcony. Lunch at a place called Shagwong. A trip to the Montauk, NY lighthouse and bluffs. Four hours in a shuttle.
Answer: Our Adult Leaders’ Retreat 2008!
Last weekend our leadership team shared a fantastic weekend of relational connection and a bonding of our hearts together as friends. Youth ministry is not easy. Usually fun, often exciting, hectic, busy, sometimes frustrating, adventurous, tiring, but never easy. That’s why we need times to just get away and rest in the spirit of Jesus and His disciples.
In Mark 6:31, after some intense ministry adventures, Jesus said to
His disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” It’s easy to forget the importance of rest and relaxation in the business of ministry. But if we want to avoid burnout and want to serve Jesus for the long haul, we need to give our minds and our bodies time to rest and recharge.
I love retreats, especially with my leaders, because more than a time of rest, they are also a time of relationship building. In John 15:15 Jesus said to His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants … I have called you friends.” Do you think Jesus said that simply because the disciples were in ministry with Him? I don’t think so. All of those conversations walking from place to place, the conversations in the evenings when they couldn’t fall asleep, the meals they shared together, the getaways—these were the times during which their friendships were built; times of BEING together. While very important, the other stuff was doing-oriented. I have come to the place that I am simply not interested in just working together to get a job done. I want to be able to say, “I served Jesus faithfully, reaching students for the kingdom, and I didn’t do it with hired guns. I did it with friends. We worked hard. We played hard. We laughed. We cried. We prayed. We struggled. We learned. And through it all, we were friends.”
Today let me leave you with a Scripture to live and a statement to ponder.
“Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2).
The following is a rather full statement that I came upon recently in a devotional. Read it through a few times slowly. Meditate on it. Wrestle with it. Digest it in your spirit.
“In all the ordinary forms of Christian life, service is apt to have more or less of bondage in it; that is, it is done purely as a matter of duty, and often as a trial and a cross. Certain things, which at first may have been a joy and a delight, become after a while weary tasks, performed faithfully, perhaps, but with much secret disinclination, and many confessed or unconfessed wishes that they need not be done at all, or at least that they need not be done so often. The soul finds itself saying, instead of the ‘May I?’ of love, the ‘Must I?’ of duty … I am ashamed to think that any Christian should ever put on a long face and shed tears over doing a thing for Christ which a worldly person would be only too glad to do for money.” – Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911) in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life