For pastors, one of the most neglected verses of Scripture is Mark 6:31, where Jesus told his disciples, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (NIV) We like the concept of that, but when it comes down to scheduling it, we find all kinds of excuses not to go. Bottom line--we are good at doing, not so good at being.
As hard as it might be for activistic, goal-oriented leaders, getting away for silence and solitude is a necessity for anyone who wants to stay in the game. As John Ortberg recently pointed out at the Leadership Summit, there's a world of difference between leading out of giftedness and leading out of character. One of the ways character is built is to get away from where you are valued and gifted and so indispensable long enough to take a good look at who you are on the inside.
Just before moving to Colorado, I spent a week at Gethsemane website here in Kentucky. It's where Thomas Merton lived and wrote. You need to experience a retreat at a monastery at least once. It was there that I had an encounter with God that paved the way for me to hear God's voice about coming here.
I am currently on a 48 hour retreat at the Easy Yoke Ranch, near Beulah, Colorado website here. Just 30 minutes west of Pueblo, Ron and Sandy Anderson have built a beautiful Colorado home for the purpose of teaching people the fine art of a spiritual retreat. They have a special concern for pastors. "Most of the pastors who know about our place seem too busy to come out here," Ron told me. I hope his survey sampling was very small. There is no cell phone service here, and the Internet is slow enough to not be worth getting on. I consider both of these to be desirable qualities in a retreat center. Best of all, they even have a small 2 bedroom cabin available if your family wants to come along. If you fly into Colorado Springs, you could be here in about an hour.
Another great resource for pastors is En Gedi website here, run by my friend Carl Walker. En Gedi is free for pastors. Its near Steamboat Springs, so its a little harder to get to. But man, its beautiful there.
I find lots of time outdoors to be a beneficial part of a retreat, although I do a lot of reading, journaling, and prayer as well. I took a hike this morning up into the area burned in the Mason Gulch fire a few years ago (See pictures on the Easy Yoke website). As I saw the wildfire's destruction, and the rapid growth of ground cover, I reflected on how God restores us, even when our self-centeredness destroys beautiful things in our lives. There's always hope with God.
Anyway, if you need a getaway, try these places. Your spirit will be refreshed. Be sure and read Merton's On Silence and Solitude, and Henri Nouwen's The Way of the Heart as preparation. Both will help you as you work to break the yoke of busyness,which will eventually kill your ministry.