It’s true that there are far too many times when I catch myself thinking too much over decisions and making good and simple situations suddenly stressful. Thankfully, for whatever reason, I didn’t do that with the One to One Retreat that the district offered. For whatever reason, I didn’t question the decision to take a day off, fall behind on certain initiatives or opportunities, but signed up not completely sure what I was getting into.
Upon arrival at the camp the retreat was located, some of the questions as to whether it was worth the drive, worth the time away, worth giving myself to this retreat started to arise. However, rather quickly through various conversations and our first evening session, those thoughts left for good. I realized that a lot of my thoughts and time spent reflecting over the last few years about what it means to be faithful as a pastor and develop habits that would sustain for the long term, those in the room with me were asking similar questions and could offer treasured wisdom.
There was permission in the room to slow down. It even would have felt disruptive to try and speed up the sessions, or speed up the results of whatever we were hoping for. Rather we were encouraged in the silence, we were strengthened by the slow pace, and frankly we were sent out in greater zeal in light of the rhythms we practiced at the retreat.
Increasingly as pastors I believe we feel the pull towards greater impact, greater results, greater recognition, etc. Rather quickly into the call to shepherd God’s people in vocational ministry I’ve felt, and often succumbed to, this temptation. Simply knowing the pull towards this pursuit of power I’ve found isn’t enough. It has and continues to require me daily dying to the fire I so badly want to stoke through the approval and attention I receive in pastoral ministry, and rather pursuing the way of Jesus and the power that comes through the cruciform life. The contemplative rhythms we were led in during the One to One Retreat were, and continue to, lead me into these deep and satisfying places.
The retreat confirmed for me that I couldn’t ignore this invitation that Jesus was offering me any longer. That it would be my loss and the church’s loss to disregard contemplative rhythms for the sake of increasing intimacy with Jesus and an increasing recognition of his voice.