#1: Taking a retreat follows the ministry pattern that Jesus models.
He engages. See the intensity of Jesus’ ministry. He works hard (Mark 1:21-34). He disengages. See how Jesus also sought solitude with God (Mark 1:35-39). Jesus also takes His disciples away after intense times of ministry (Mark 6:30-34).
#2: It’s always a case of “both/and” and not “either/or.”
A lot (the majority!) of your spiritual formation still takes place in the contexts of your local church, small groups, and ministry teams. This doesn’t however, negate the role of a focused retreat time in your spiritual formation.
#3 Let’s get to the heart (struggle) of the matter here:
The truth is that many times I equate being “busy” with being “important” or “successful.” As a result, my heart resists getting away and spending time with Jesus.
I often think, “Well, I can’t spend a whole day away! What will happen to my ________ (team, family, ministry) without me? I’m just too busy.”
What a total and utter crock! There is not a single thing that God wants to accomplish in this world and for His kingdom that He cannot do better, faster, with less expenditure of resources without me. God doesn’t “need” me at all. Full stop. Instead, He graciously delights to involve me.
But if the Boss says, “Hey, come work over here today and hang out with Me,” that’s His prerogative and His responsibility to take care of the rest of the needs. You’d be amazed at just how replaceable you are!
That said, being replaceable is different than abandoning those who need your help. Make sure when you do take time away, you set people up well by not insisting, or even demanding, that we be allowed to take retreat days. And when you do take retreat days, offer to take care of kids/chores for your spouse or a team mate so that they can get away, too. You can also set them up well by asking well ahead of time about a day you’d like to be gone for a retreat day to make sure it won’t unduly burden others.
If you’re still feeling hesitant or unsure about taking time away, talk with Jesus about it. Let Him know you’re struggling. He loves to meet us and answer our prayers by changing our desires and softening our hearts. Ultimately, personal retreats help us lay ahold of more of what is already ours—the blessings of being God’s children. That can start even before we set time aside.