Christ made it a habit to withdraw to quiet places to pray, to still His soul before the Father and catch His breath away from the crowd. If the Son of God needed that time, how much more do we? That's why once a year I intentionally disengage from ministry.
Each summer I take a week and a half to be with my family and another week or so for a study break. The latter requires me to be away from the office but allows me to be praying, reading, reflecting and strategizing for the ministry year ahead. You'll note that "emailing" isn't anywhere on the list...
During my break I also pray for our church very specifically. Weeks before I leave I ask everyone at Northeast to give me one thing that I can pray for them while I am away. By the time I leave on break I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cards with requests to go through. Slightly overwhelming? Yes. Life changing and focusing for my ministry during the year ahead? You betcha.
Key to this time for me is a rhythm I am trying to adopt given to me by a leadership voice in my life here in San Antonio. His mantra to senior pastors - and the mantra adopted by our denomination - is simply this:
Divert - DailyWhat does that mean? It means that each day you must divert to spend time alone with the Father - I do this first thing in the morning (or I find it just won't happen). Each week you must withdraw long enough to be sure you are doing what you need to be doing and what only you can do within your organization. Each month you need to stop for maintenance. Some pastors take a day each month to read, reflect, evaluate and pray. I don't do this one as well but I'm learning. And lastly, each year you need to abandon it all for an extended time away with family and with God.
Withdraw - Weekly
Maintain - Monthly
Abandon - Annually
As a leader you have to have a rhythm in your ministry and you must be sure to disengage with some kind of regularity... your health, your marriage, your family, your sanity, they all depend on your ability to do this and do it well.