one of my challenges as a pastor has been to learn the rhythm of local church life. as a university campus minister, the pace of the year was regulated by the academic calendar and somewhat predictable -- a lot of prep in early august, a big push during new student outreach in september, a winding down during final exams, etc. i ran hard during certain parts of the year, knowing when the lull in the schedule would come. but church life isn't very much like that. even the holidays, when many church people have their families and traditions to attend to, can be a high demand time for a pastor (e.g. advent season). and on a more immediate level, sunday always seems to be, as pastor wayne says, about three days away, so there's always something urgent to prepare for. and finally, a pastor needs to be in church on sundays. so when can a pastor ever go away, other than for other ministry assignments?
the answer, at least in part, is not that complicated. a pastor has to schedule that time; i suppose that's true for adults in many professions, but having relied on the calendar for so many years, it's not a practice i've cultivated. but recently, i had the chance to go away on my first-ever individual prayer retreat as a pastor (m and i have led more than one prayer retreat as times for others to be instructed and renewed). once the idea came to me, i knew that it was the right thing to do -- and it only took four years to realize i needed to schedule it!