I’ve just spent the last 3 days with about a dozen pastors and spouses in what their group calls “Refresh”.  The identity of the group isn’t paramount, the location of the event is secondary.  But the concept is really important.  A dozen pastors carved out three days to eat, recreate, sing, pray, and play games together.  The agenda was clear—no business.  It is designed to be a season of renewal and refreshment for the participants.

I’ve been to their gathering before.  It’s the same time each year and I am always invited.  The invitation isn’t just politeness.  There is an appreciation of me when I show up.  The other evening saw me arrive late to the gathering and I entered the common room where all had gathered for a together time.  It was like music to my ears when people looked up from their smaller groups and greeted me by name.  It reminded me of the old scenes from the tv show “Cheers” when Norm would walk into the bar and everyone seated there would look up and greet him by name.  I felt like one of the group even though I don’t live geographically in their area.

The discussions over the days were alternately jovial and serious.  We had a serious discussion one morning about how hard it was for some to discipline themselves to show up at this event.  Busy schedules, competing even more attractive demands, weariness, family concerns, conflicting work schedules all were forces at work in restricting participation.  But then we launched into a 90 minute sharing session where we were encouraged to talk about what God had done in our lives over the past year, both personally and pastorally.  By the end of our time there were spiritual endorphins pulsing through the participants.  Some refreshment occurred just in hearing the conversation.  Disciplines by nature are like that—hard to engage, but valued upon completion.   Sharing our souls is a spiritual discipline.

Last evening I spent a long time speaking with a pastor about his life.  He is an incredibly gifted man and because of his giftedness he is in much demand from many circles.  The Christian family is funny isn’t it—we see giftedness and we launch onto it doing our best to try and suck some of that life into our lives.  This soul was struggling to “refresh” because basically his life schedule was so full that to take 3 days away was to put himself three days behind the proverbial 8 ball.  As we chatted it became evident that even when his body was not engaged in a task for function, his mind was.  He was peddling hard and was keeping his nose above water—barely.   I nodded as we talked.  I understood his world

I have a friend who has just retired from ministry.  Over the years his giftedness got him into deeper and deeper water.  Talent can do that to you.   If you want to get something done ask a busy person.   About 15 years ago he took up woodworking in a serious way.  It saved his soul and allowed him to finish when he was supposed to finish and not before.  Besides being a very gifted man (you should see his woodworking projects) he is also a very wise man.  It was a good way to get his mind off his work.