Two weeks ago I took a three day retreat to get away and rest. I try and do this on a regular basis-at least yearly. I think this is useful for any of us, regardless of our role. But I think this is especially important in the life of a leader. Leaders live busy lives and are in constant danger of either believing their own press toward their successes or being completely overwhelmed by their problems. For the leader leading in God’s kingdom there is always the problem of burnout-usually some combination of being under “relationshiped” and over taxed. The subtle contributing causes and/or consequences are wrongly placed hope and misdirected glory.
In Psalm 3, David, the great King of Israel, is describing through song the flight of his life. More disconcerting, he is fleeing from his son Absalom. This takes us back to 2 Samuel 15 where we recount the narrative that drives this Psalm. David has made his great error of having an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and directing the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. Even though David repents of his sin, the consequences of his selfish actions continue. The kingdom is beginning to unravel and his son seeks to usurp the throne. Absalom is certainly one of David’s favorite sons. The glory of any king is the love of his family and the love and honor of the people of his kingdom. David had tasted all that and more prior to committing his sin with Bathsheba. Now he was running for his life and the disparaging comments of others. At some point prior to chasing after Bathsheba, David had traded kingdoms. He had decided to put more stock in his own estimation of life and pleasure and pursue his own glory over and above Yahweh’s. But in verses 3-8 we see David recalibrating his hope and glory. He declares God to be “my glory, and the lifter of my head.” He cries out to God. He rests. The Lord sustains him, and his courage and vigor return. He ends the Psalm by rightly declaring that it is Yahweh who is his salvation and that the people are Yahweh’s people. David regains perspective.
That is what slowing down and retreating will do for you. I find it takes a whole day just for the noise of everyday living and leading to go away. Then in the next couple of days I can begin to see where I have misplaced my hope and tarnished His glory. Finally, by His grace, I can recalibrate. I can freshly surrender. I can place my full hope back in Him. I can reorient my life and leadership towards His glory over mine. This takes time. This takes solitude. This takes crying out to God for His presence. This takes thoughtful reflection. This takes the generous ministry of the Holy Spirit to saddle up beside you to prod, pull, nudge, tug, convict, renew, and restore. The personal retreat in the life of a leader becomes a re-starting point-a recalibrating point-so that he or she can return to the battle with fresh energy and a renewed sense of the greatness of God. Every leader who leads in God’s kingdom needs periodic recalibration so he or she can lead with rightly placed hope and for God’s glory.
As you begin 2012 plan your personal retreat right now!