Saturday, December 31, 2011

Personal Retreat Day

Several months ago, I was impacted by a book I read that encouraged pastors to take a day a month to review their spiritual priorities, evaluate how they have spent their time, and plan their schedule for the next month. The purpose of this is not only to create some time for spiritual refreshment, but also to be proactive in your schedule of life. So, I did it. Finally. Well, sort of. I wanted to take an entire day, but only ended up taking about 7 hours. I also wanted to do it away from the church office, but since the office was closed and nobody was there, I chose to do it there. I thought I would share a bit about what I did on my Personal Retreat Day:

Quiet Time With God
I started the day with my Bible and a journal at a coffee shop. I hunkered down in the back of Coffee Corners in Burton for about an hour and a half. I put my headphones on and read and journaled my thoughts from Proverbs 1-7. I do not journal very often, but I think I am going to do it more in the future. I was trying to quiet my life and listen to what the Lord had to say to me through His Word. Not in sermon prep, but just for my life.

If I were honest, there are times in my life that I feel like it is hard for me to separate Thad the Christian from Thad the Pastor/Preacher. I have so many thoughts racing through my mind all the time, and often when I read the Scriptures I begin thinking of a new sermon series that would be interesting. But I think journaling like this over some Scriptures helped me stop and reflect upon my life. Thad the Christian.

Spiritual Life Evaluation
After this time, I went back to my office and spent some time evaluating my walk with Christ. It just so happens that tomorrow in my sermon, I will be asking 8 questions to evaluate whether you are growing in your relationship with Jesus or not. These are questions I have used in my life for years and have given them to lots of people. So, I spent a good hour going over them in my own life, writing in my journal how I would rate myself as well as my plan of action.

I will post all of the questions on Monday, but let me illustrate how I evaluated my heart in just one of the questions. This is what I did with all 8 of the questions.

  • Question: Am I Growing In My Desire To Spend Time With God?
  • Grade: 4 (out of 10). I feel I have sunk into a duty of reading God's Word. And my prayer life, while it is very good informally (constant communion with God), I feel I have a void of formal time of prayer. I am doing well memorizing Scripture. It has been harder than ever to separate reading the Bible for personal growth from reading the Bible for preaching/sermon prep.
  • Plan of Action: (1) Daily, Scheduled Bible Reading Plan; (2) Finish Memorizing 1 Thessalonians; (3) Redeem my drive to the office with prayer cards; (4) Journal 4x a week in January.

Other Evaluations
After this, I spent some time evaluating and grading other priorities in my life. For instance, I had to evaluate my marriage. How am I doing as a husband. I made myself evaluate my parenting. How am I shepherding my children. By the way, these were the hardest for me. It becomes so easy in the position I am in to schedule time to disciple, train, or equip other people in the church and often I am spent when it comes to my family. I had to repent of sometimes ignoring and not helping my wife and kids develop a spiritual growth plan.

I went on to evaluate my office life, my ministry life, my financial life, my social life, my writing life, and my physical life. That last one wasn't very good. Ugh. I gave myself a grade for each one of these and wrote out some plans of action for those that needed it.

I spent about 30 minutes looking at my calendar for the next month. The busier I become, I realize if I don't schedule what I want to make sure and accomplish, it probably will not get done.

Casual Reading
I grabbed a book that I have wanted to read and spent an hour just reading. This is very relaxing and encouraging to me.

Sermon Planning
I spent about one hour looking at my preaching schedule over the next 3-4 months and planning out some sermon titles and what I want to accomplish through these messages.

The last thing I did was to look back over my journal from the day and to pick out the 5-10 things that I needed to make sure to apply to my life this next month. I wrote them down into Evernote, which I have been using to keep notes.

That's it. My Personal Retreat Day. I think it was very beneficial to me spiritually. But now the hard work comes in trying to grow in all of these areas. I would greatly appreciate your prayers if you think of it.

Question: Have You Ever Done Something Like This? Do You Think It Would Be Beneficial To Your Life?

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