Saturday, April 10, 2010
When I was an Army Chaplain I got to go TDY (temporary duty) for training, often a month at a time, at least once or twice a year. I received an entire year of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Brooke Army Medical Center when I was a Major. Now that I'm a civilian Pastor I find it harder to renew myself and refresh my vision. I've contacted scores of retreat/conference centers and they'll let me stay a few days...which is hardly what I need. I've asked to get put part-time on staff only to be told it would be "logistically unfeasable." There ought to be a retreat center designed for clergy sabbaticals where a minister could go (with spouse) for at least 2 months. There'd be worship and educational sessions, recreation, a library, and some one-on-one spiritual guidance. If I had the wherewithal I'd try to establish such a center myself. Most clergy I know keep plugging away year-after-year with a couple of vacation weeks per year, usually scheduled around the annual denominational meeting. It's not working. We could simply sit in our living rooms for a month, but that's a terrible idea. To remain effective, ministers need to break away from the responsibilities that consume them and work on personal renewal. I know a lot of ministers...it's not happening.