How to Maximize a Retreat Day

Do you ever take any time for yourself? Do you ever sit before God in silence, listening? Not leading or doing, but resting and being.

For all of us, resting is crucial. Stopping, letting go, not using a list, not thinking about the future, projects, people or vision is important, but we seldom make time for it.

If we do, it feels awkward and clumsy.

retreat day

The question becomes, how do you maximize a sabbath or a retreat day?

I was asked recently by a campus ministry leader how to unplug for 48 hours and recharge. As I thought about it, I thought I’d share some of those ideas with you:

  • Have an idea of what you hope to get out of it.
  • Make sure it is realistic so that you aren’t depressed afterwards if you don’t accomplish that.
  • Are you trying to rest, recharge, connect with God? Have a clear goal for it.
  • Turn off everything electronic. I would start this before the retreat day or time off.
  • Have a plan for what you will do after the retreat day to reengage work and relationships. The reentry can be the hardest.
  • Go somewhere that is recharging for you. I like to go up to the mountains and walk around and sit.
  • If you’re going to read a book, read one that enriches your soul, not a ministry book.
  • Listen to music that connects you to God and helps you to worship.
  • Schedule it, block it off and don’t let anything interrupt it (unless it is a massive emergency).

I’d also encourage you to use this time to evaluate yourself, your heart, your leadership, etc.

Here are some questions I’ve used that might be helpful (some of these came from The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal):

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how fully engaged am I at work? What is standing in my way?
  • How closely does my everyday behavior match my values and serve my mission? Where are the disconnects?
  • How fully am I embodying my values and vision for myself at work? At home? In my community? Where am I falling short?
  • How effectively are the choices that I’m making physically – habits of nutrition, exercise, sleep and the balance of stress and recovery – serving my key values?
  • How consistent with my values is my emotional response in any given situation? Is it different at work than it is at home, and if so, how?
  • To what degree do I establish clear priorities and sustain attention to tasks? How consistent are those priorities with what I say is most important to me?
  • How do my habits of sleeping, eating and exercising affect my available energy?
  • How much negative energy do I invest in defense spending – frustration, anger, fear, resentment, envy – as opposed to positive energy utilized in the service of growth and productivity?
  • How much energy do I invest in myself, and how much in others, and how comfortable am I with that balance? How do those closest to me feel about the balance I’ve struck?
  • How much energy do I spend worrying about, feeling frustrated by and trying to influence events beyond my control?
  • Finally, how wisely and productively am I investing my energy?
  • What’s my current word from the Lord? (It’s not new, but what is God whispering to you lately?)
  • What’s my current obedience to the Lord? (There can be sacrifice without obedience, but there can’t be obedience without sacrifice.)
  • What is my current awe before the Lord? Will I get on God’s agenda and trust Him to take care of my agenda?