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Episode 76: Rest & Retreat for the Local Leader

October 16, 2018

Episode 76: Rest & Retreat for the Local Leader

It’s a biblical mandate to create space to get away and rest. At the height of busyness, most people don’t realize the need for self care until they are running in the red. Learn the steps to take to ensure you are just as intentional with your rest as you are with your service.

EPISODE RESOURCES

GO DEEP INTO THE DIMES DROPPED, CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKER, AND CHECK OUT THE LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  1. Website: Hume.org/pastors/

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Episode 76 Transcript

Mingo Palacios:

Hey everybody, my name is Mingo and this is the Purpose Driven Podcast and from time to time, you know, we always get out and about around the country or around the state and today is no different. We’re actually up at Hume Lake Christian Camps up in the Sequoia National Forest and for the last several days I’ve been fortunate enough to be on retreat with a few hundred pastors who have made it a rhythm of retreating and creating Sabbath and creating space. And so for the next couple of episodes after this one or you’re going to hear a few thoughts about the benefits and really maybe even some of the pitfalls that we’ve experienced firsthand from not creating space and some of the benefits from focusing on self care and allowing the Lord really to have room in our lives as leaders. So, in studio I’ve got two amazing individuals that I’ve done long time ministry with. I was actually in Papa New Guinea with both of these guys in years passed, over a decade ago, and now here we are in a studio at Hume talking about the conversation of rest in retreat when it comes to the local leader. So Chuck Bomar, thank you for being with us. Jay Johnson, thank you for being on the podcast today. Chuck, why don’t you tell people where you’re from?

Chuck Bomar:

Currently live in Portland, Oregon. Moved up there 10 years ago to plant the church. As founder, I lead one of the congregations there.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s great. And you guys have multiple expressions, yeah?

Chuck Bomar:

Yeah, we call them congregations.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah.

Chuck Bomar:

And so yeah, we have four of them right now.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s cool. All the millennials say expressions bro, get on board.

Chuck Bomar:

Oh I’m sorry.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s cool.

Chuck Bomar:

I’m sorry, my bad.

Mingo Palacios:

[laughing]

Chuck Bomar:

I’m a Gen Xer, so-

Mingo Palacios:

Okay, perfect. That’s good. That’s excellent. And Jay, you are on staff here at Hume and you’ve done so much ministry in so many different expressions. You’ve done a million different things.

Chuck Bomar:

That’s a good word Mingo.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah I like it. You know, it feels good coming out,

Jay Johnson:

I like to express myself in many ways.

Mingo Palacios:

[laughing]

Mingo Palacios:

Jay, why don’t you give our listeners an idea of what you’re uniquely responsible for on the hill and some of the other things that you’ve gotten to do. How long have you been here?

Jay Johnson:

Yeah, I have worked for Hume Lake for about 20 years now or over 20 years and been involved at a seasonal pace and also full time. So I’ve been full time for 20 years. I am the Camp Director of Hume San Diego, so we do the program that is up here at the lake down in San Diego on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University.

Mingo Palacios:

Shout out.

Jay Johnson:

And then I also am the Assistant Director of Program and so I help run the entire program department along with Lenny Harris, who’s the Senior Director of Program and just provide direction and leadership. One of those responsibilities is being a part of the pastor’s retreat.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah.

Chuck Bomar:

Well hold on a second. I have something to say about that.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, well, clearly.

Chuck Bomar:

And he’s honestly one of the best team leaders that I know.

Jay Johnson:

That’s very kind of you to say that. Very kind.

Mingo Palacios:

[laughing]

Mingo Palacios:

This is something that you guys have been working on in partnership. Chuck, you’re a pastor, you’re not on staff at Hume. Jay, you’re on staff at Hume, not a pastor in this season of your life, although I would argue you pastor several people. The idea of retreat and rest, self care. This isn’t just a programmatic element inside the calendar year at Hume. This is a mandate. It’s a biblical mandate and it’s awesome that you guys have created space inside of your calendar year for pastors to get away. Certainly I’m benefiting from it just in the few days that I’ve gotten to like breathe in the sweet pine air.

Jay Johnson:

Yeah, you were very clear. You need a break.

Mingo Palacios:

[laughing]

Jay Johnson:

You were like, “Jay, can I just come up with you man?” Absolutely!

Mingo Palacios:

I just need a place to rest. And I think that’s our responsibility as leaders to know like, I’m tapped out. I’m hitting and bouncing off the bottom right now. And I was talking to Jay about, I think very few leaders are going to, at the height of their business be thumbing through a catalog looking for an opportunity to retreat. Most people they run on red by the time they get overextended and over demanded and over committed. It’s like a friend usually needs to step in and say, “Hey man, I want to give you a couple of days away.” Or “Hey, I have access, I have the ability to give you a place to get you and your wife away.” And I felt like that, in a weird way, not to say that that was the call I made, but I know Hume is a place where people come for rest and revitalization and it just happened to be right in that perfect moment where our schedule was coming. It was super tense. And then here we are now talking about it and experiencing it firsthand. Chuck, you’ve been pastoring for decades, have you ever experienced a season where you went all the way to empty? That’s not a short-term loss. Those, I have to believe our long-term losses too.

Chuck Bomar:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I don’t think I’ve fully tapped out ever, but I’ve come really close and thankfully I’ve actually been able to be a part of churches and leadership that have been pretty proactive with this. So, I’ve learned to be more proactive. I know that’s fairly rare, but even with that, I’ve still come really close. And so it’s things like this where for me, yeah, I’m a part of helping this whole thing with Jay, it’s actually just something that I personally said, “Hey, I’m going to just put this into my annual rhythm” and I know it’s coming and even though I’m helping with it, as you know now, it’s so chill and just relational and restful and you’re here at Hume Lake. So, but so for me, yeah, I’ve come close. About two years after we first planted the church, that’s the closest I’ve ever been to burnout. And I find church planters find themselves there are a lot.

Mingo Palacios:

Uniquely.

Chuck Bomar:

In unique ways and then we try to be really proactive with our staff because it is not the tendency. It’s fascinating because you work really hard in the church even to the point of burnout and you might still get a promotion and yet it is a command to Sabbath and you don’t get a promotion for Sabbath-ing, you know, you get a promotion for overworking and so we kind of set up the system that’s really messed up.

Mingo Palacios:

Sometimes I have certainly been in proximity to ministries that celebrate in a really unhealthy manner the things that will actually burn through somebody instead of set them up in a way where their greatest gifts are worked out over time. That’s the goal I think of any leader is not to get in, go RPMs all the way to the red line and then just wait until the motor explodes.

Chuck Bomar:

Right but even I though, I it when my staff is working really hard. So I actually have to be really intentional about saying you need time off and I don’t want them to take time off.

Mingo Palacios:

[laughing]

Mingo Palacios:

Within reason, please.

Chuck Bomar:

Yeah. Because the culture, everything is just so hurried, you know? And we value the hard work and we should. We shouldn’t view ministry as like, “Well now I can just relax.” No, you have to steward that and you have to work hard. But we kind of reward sometimes people that are overworking and not protecting the commands of scripture of Sabbath.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s a good one. And I don’t think you’re allowed to cherry pick your favorite ones and kind of like, skirt the rest, right?

Chuck Bomar:

You can’t.

Mingo Palacios:

No, as far as I know, I’ve been trying to find the excuse to be able to do that. But you know, what’s really difficult, like you said, culturally in our society, at least in the North American society, there is almost like a merit badge that comes from being able to grind, right? The grind, hustle, you know, burning the 18. We always talk about like burning the candle at both ends, you know that midnight oil. Like in a weird way, there’s a reverence to that and it can be dangerous.

Jay Johnson:

It’s the Lord’s work. Those that are serving in a local church either full time or part time or just as a volunteer, it’s the Lord’s work. You want to invest in people, you want to invest in the church, you want to serve the Lord as we have this heart for the people and the lost and so you’re doing it for the Lord, which is a trap in itself that so many of us buy into or you believe that lie that, “I just have to keep going and going and going” when the reality is Sabbath is a command. And God did it on the seventh day. We should. We see Christ doing it. And it is such an important part of the natural rhythm of life.

Chuck Bomar:

Well, so you said that we’re doing it for the Lord and that’s what we like to say-

Chuck Bomar:

But the truth is that some of the reasons why we burn out is because we’re not.

Jay Johnson:

Yeah, we’re doing it for ourselves.

Chuck Bomar:

Yeah. There’s so much of our own identity that’s tied into it and you title it like a Messiah Complex or whatever like you have to be in. It’s a sense of control, sense of identity. All those kinds of things are so tied into it and I think that’s part of what the rest is. That’s what I think Sabbath is, you step out and you show dependence on God.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s so good.

Chuck Bomar:

That’s the activities. Like, “No, nothing I’m doing is dependent on me, so I’m going to stop.” It’s just this practice of dependence.

Mingo Palacios:

You know what’s so funny is, when we were running a volunteer led ministry in downtown San Diego, one of the biggest turnouts that we ever had was on a Sunday I wasn’t there and it was like the best and worst for my ego because I was like, “I didn’t tell anybody I was going to take the Sunday off” except for my team, letting them know, “Hey, this Sunday, as much as I want to be there, I can’t.” For whatever reason I don’t remember, but how sweet it was looking back on the recap going, man not only was I absent, the Lord brought the most people that that ministry ever saw in its existence on that particular Sunday and the team crushed it. I actually think some of the reasons why people don’t rest is because they don’t trust. You know, it has little to do with the reverence of God’s call to make room. It actually has a lot to do with the fact they don’t trust that either those that they’re working alongside of or those that they’ve employed or those who have been entrusted with them or the person they’re doing it for actually can manage it in their absence.

Chuck Bomar:

I always tell our lead pastors, I just say like, “You have really two options. One is you can put your fingers in everything so that you feel like you have some sort of control or you realize you never had control in the first place and you trust the Holy Spirit and other people.” So it’s like either one, you know, but the trust is an issue and I think that’s the reason why we can burn out.

Mingo Palacios:

Let’s talk practical here because there’s a couple of ministry expressions I just started at.

Chuck Bomar:

Expressions is a good word.

Mingo Palacios:

If you’re taking tally, would you just email me how many times we say the word expression? Today’s episode is brought to you by the word expressions. There are a few different styles of ministry. The one that stands out to me most right now is Eastlake Church because I spent so much time with them. They actually have an unlimited vacation policy where there they tell their staff-

Jay Johnson:

What?

Mingo Palacios:

Unlimited. Yeah.

Jay Johnson:

Can I go work there?

Mingo Palacios:

You probably can.

Chuck Bomar:

You won’t get paid.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s like the books essentially are written like as long as your ministry is covered, we just want to give you an unlimited amount of opportunity for rest if you need it, just make sure your job is being taken care of. Then you’ve got the classic like two weeks executives get three weeks. I was working for PD. We’re on the road so much. A lot of times it’s, “Hey, if you’re on the road for four days, and those are work days, we’re going to try to find a rhythm where you can get that off later.” Just for others listening, do you guys have a standard set of, you work so much, you get that time off? If you work it on accident, is it just burnt and you don’t get the credit as a senior leader? Is that just a total fallacy altogether? What do you think? Or give us some insight.

Jay Johnson:

Yeah. Some of the hardest things like here at Hume is you live and you work at the same place, so you’re constantly surrounded by or in the environment where there’s something to do, You know, I might be off and I’m taking a walk with my wife around the lake and I’ll have three or four questions in that time, just going around the lake and me being somebody-

Mingo Palacios:

As in somebody who’s connecting to you, asking you, “Hey, can I just ask you a quick question?”

Jay Johnson:

And whether it’s a fellow employee or just like a guest, those are just the things that come up. My natural state too is I’m such a task driven person and I love what I do and so I’m going to give and I’m going to give and I’m going to give. So just taking the time. And I finally had to realize in my life that as a guy, as a dude, I’m going to be about my work and I’m going to pour into things as much as I can. And so forcing myself to take time off because we have rhythms here and summer is the big season and so you build up to that in one sense, but there’s other departments that are more operationally driven. They hire a bunch of staff and they’re going into the fall as their heavy season where they’re doing late nights and doing a bunch of stuff. So it really depends here at Hume what department you’re in. But I think it really comes down to what are your priorities and how do you want to live life? If you make taking time off a priority and taking care of yourself. And having some checks and balances in that. My wife is a great one, her just saying like, “Jay, it’s time. You can’t keep doing this.”

Mingo Palacios:

Yes. Preach about that.

Jay Johnson:

It’s so, so, so important. And so she’s always got the objection.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. They hold like a thermometer. Fallon holds the thermometer for me. She more than anybody in my zone can say, “You need rest. And our family, the kids are different because they have not had enough time with you.” And that feels just amazing when your wife says that by the way. No, It’s like, “Oh, I should be managing this better.” But she and her grace always is probably the first person. If you’re listening to this and you don’t have a wife, I just feel bad for you. But one day God’s going to bring you one and they’re going to help you. It’s a true partnership, right?

Jay Johnson:

And sometimes you can see it in them. You come home day after day and you just see them like-

Mingo Palacios:

I’m so sorry.

Jay Johnson:

So it’s time, it’s time. We got to do it.

Mingo Palacios:

Chuck, your thoughts.

Chuck Bomar:

Yeah, like policy wise, you know, we don’t do that but we have the standard kind of a vacation accrual kind of thing. You know, you start off with a certain amount. Most of our pastors will have three or four weeks, but we also are pretty flexible with that. And we also give ministry weeks, so if they’re out and about doing some sort of ministry, it’s not time off and that will vary at time from time to time. A couple of the unspoken, like that’s not in our handbook, but that everybody is clear about, I’m really clear about this. You do your work and then you leave and if you respond to emails or anything, honestly there’s going to be consequences. If you’re on vacation, you’re out. If you respond to anything then that’s an issue.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s good.

Chuck Bomar:

So you either do it or you don’t know. If you don’t do your job before you leave. Of course I have no problem calling you, but the goal is, is that no, you do it and then you completely check out. We’re proactive with sabbaticals we do every seven years. So we just had a pastor go and one of the things that he did, I think it’s okay to say this, I don’t think he’ll be upset if he ever listened to this, although I probably won’t tell them I did this, but he went on sabbatical and he did a very honorable thing.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah.

Chuck Bomar:

He went to his staff and he asked them for prayer requests so that he could pray for his staff when he’s gone on Sabbatical.

Mingo Palacios:

Okay.

Chuck Bomar:

And I told him, I said, “You know, this is going to sound really unspiritual, but please don’t do that because you’re on sabbatical. And the Sabbatical is actually about you and your wife and your girls.” He has a couple girls.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah.

Chuck Bomar:

And so the moment you go away and you start thinking about your staff, your mind’s going to reengage with the church. And the best thing for the churches is that you don’t think about the church during this time, you have to do that. And so I told him, “I just want you to feel what it feels like to be fully decompressed and it’s probably going to take you four or five weeks. And if the moment you engage with a prayer or whatever” And so he went and he didn’t pray for anybody, which sounds really bad, but I just wanted him to feel like I just said, “Man, you have to feel 100 percent freedom to know that this is actually just about you and it’s okay. You and your relationship with the Lord.” So, those are some of the things. Now if I went to him and said, “Hey, another opportunity is you have unlimited vacation time, I think our staff might be a little more excited about that.

Mingo Palacios:

Peace! Peace Chuck!

Chuck Bomar:

I don’t think I’m going to do that. I’ll just be honest. I don’t know.

Mingo Palacios:

I thought it was really interesting what you had said where you go, “It’s going to take you time to ramp down.” I don’t know how your brains work, but for me I like, I am lying to myself if I go, “Cool, I’ll work and then I’ll take time off and then I’ll come back right after.” It’s like I need extended amounts of time and I’ll tell you what else I need. I need to get it to a place where I have zero cell service or I need to be committed to leaving my phone in my car or going to a place where I’m not being buzzed.

Chuck Bomar:

I go into airplane mode.

Mingo Palacios:

You go into airplane mode?

Chuck Bomar:

Yeah. Unless I’m separated from my family.

Mingo Palacios:

Right. That’s fair. That’s fair. Yeah.

Chuck Bomar:

The other thing that I do practically-

Mingo Palacios:

Yes.

Chuck Bomar:

I have practice in email anyway. I never respond to an email with having something to follow up on. So when I respond with an email, now I’m done and I delete it. So that’s the practice of getting through my inbox. But the other thing I do is I put on my automatic response from my email. If I’m going on vacation, I preach Sunday and then I go on vacation on Thursday morning, I have my auto response on already-

Mingo Palacios:

Crushing.

Chuck Bomar:

So that I can have a couple of days to respond and if I get other emails in, I don’t need to respond to them.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah that’s good. You don’t feel pressure.

Chuck Bomar:

Right. It gives you a little more space.

Mingo Palacios:

One of the things that Rick says that I think is awesome.

Chuck Bomar:

He said a few things.

Mingo Palacios:

He said a few that’s awesome, but one of them I’ll put on this particular topic. He says, “To avoid burnout” he says this, “divert daily” right? So divert to whatever relaxes you. So divert to those things on a daily rhythm. You said you get up in the mornings, you go to the gym, you watched the sunrise. I’m still not that disciplined to be up that early in the morning. I’m not as holy as you are Jay. But, so he says, “Divert daily to something that relaxes you. Withdraw Weekly.” That would be like the Sabbath, right? Put yourself a whole day aside to be incredibly disciplined about being disconnected and being present with whomever God has in your life. That could be your immediate family, it can be your boyfriend, it could be your girlfriend, whatever it is that’s not uniquely connected to serving the Lord if you’re in vocational ministry. And then, “Abandon annually.” He says, “Just disconnect completely.” That I think is the goal for this particular retreat that you guys are facilitating that it is and annual abandonment of sorts where they get to get poured into. Jay.

Jay Johnson:

Yeah, there’s a ton of guys that, this is their annual thing. We’ve been coming for 10, 15 years. There’s many churches that will bring their staff and they do it as like a staff retreat. There’s a number that are doing it is as a couple with their spouse, but it is really important. These are men and women that are pouring out and pouring out and pouring out. And so our goal that Chuck and I talked about a number of years ago was to be able to have a place where they could get poured back into in whatever way they want to. And so they want some seminars and you know, that sort of stuff, we do have those. If they don’t want to come to any meetings and just hold up in the room and sleep for three, four days, they can do that too.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s awesome.

Jay Johnson:

If they want to go for walks around the lake, they can go for a quiet walk around a lake overlooking Kings Canyon. Or if they want to go on a killer detour and go see the beauty of God’s creation in a four-wheel drive, that’s sweet. They can do that too. So whatever it takes, this retreat is designed to be able to offer that with the core of who we are, where we’re going to open God’s word and we’re going to dig down deep into it. We’re going to have guys here that are going to pour back into other pastors at a couple of different levels from God’s word and the experiences that they have as pastors. And Chuck has just been so instrumental in creating that environment and helping provide the speakers and contacts and many of these guys are his friends that over the years I’ve been involved in it and the pastor’s retreat at Hume has been long before Chuck and I. It’s been going on for tons of years. But this was just kind of the way that we wanted to really design the retreat so the pastors could come up and make it whatever they want to but with real intentionality. And that’s the beauty of Chuck. I mean, as you’ve heard already in this podcast, he’s very intentional in everything that he does and everything that he says. And I really respect that a ton about him.

Chuck Bomar:

I appreciate that. But the thing I like about this conference, well I like a number of things, but there’s a number of things about other conferences because I’ll go to a lot of conferences, I speak at a lot of conferences and I stopped going to conferences unless I’m teaching because it’s so hurried. But if you go into an exhibit hall. Oh my.

Mingo Palacios:

You get attacked.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s an assault on the senses for sure.

Chuck Bomar:

It’s a beauty to it all. There’s so many resources out there and those conferences are awesome for that. But what we try to do here was just say, “You know what-

Mingo Palacios:

Peel it all back.

Chuck Bomar:

Peel it back and let’s give a couple of really good seminars. Get really good quality teachers in here, pastors, people that understand ministry to care for people. Let’s diffuse all of that how many people are in your church atmosphere and just everybody’s doing cool stuff. Everybody’s doing great stuff, great work. So let’s just be together as pastors and have meals with each other. Each other’s spouses can talk. There’s hosts here. They’re kind of counselors. Then they just kind of say, “Hey, if you have, sometimes it’s just really good to talk to somebody that’s not a part of your church.”

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. Oh my gosh. The pressure release just from that alone.

Chuck Bomar:

Yeah, right.

Mingo Palacios:

Just to talk to a-

Chuck Bomar:

I think the word that I would use is refuge.

Mingo Palacios:

Refuge is a great word.

Chuck Bomar:

Refuge, and then on a church budget, honestly you can get quality resources and contacts here right as you would as other conferences, but for the price it’s unbelievable. And for a church budget it’s doable, but it’s also kind of like a vacation.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. No I agree. 100 percent a vacation. You know that there is a testimony to the fact that there are pastors that come for their own sabbaticals to come just to the environment. Programmatic elements set aside.

Chuck Bomar:

I’ve come here during my sabbatical.

Mingo Palacios:

I have not yet had a sabbatical. We should talk about that.

Jay Johnson:

I just took off. We don’t have a sabbatical program here. Two years ago I said, “Can I just take all of my vacation time and pour it into December?”

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah and just load it together.

Jay Johnson:

And then just take the time off. And for the first time ever because I live and work at this location for the first time ever, I felt things that I hadn’t felt in 20 years, like a separate side of myself that-

Mingo Palacios:

It’s renewal.

Jay Johnson:

Wasn’t working constantly, or thinking about the things of work and all that kind of stuff. So it was, it was phenomenal and just such a great exercise for me personally, my walk with the Lord and my family.

Mingo Palacios:

As I wrap this episode up, we’re going to have a few others inside of this series on rest and recuperation.

Chuck Bomar:

That’s a good word too.

Mingo Palacios:

I liked the idea of retreating to advance. It seems counter intuitive to step backwards in order to see farther down the future or prepare for more that’s down the road.

Jay Johnson:

Yeah.

Mingo Palacios:

My hope is that if people are listening to this conversation that it hits them in a way that goes, “I need to think more deeply about this, take this more seriously” because I don’t think there’s enough pastors resting, strangely enough. I don’t know that there’s enough, like I said, culturally speaking, where there’s actually a celebration of taking time. Actually people are being celebrated in the opposite direction. Like if you can go 24 hours a day, somehow they think you’re some sort of like spiritual superhero. I’ll leave our listeners with this and then we’ll go to the next episode. Psalms 127:2 NIV version says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late toiling for food to eat for don’t you know that he grants sleep to those that he loves.”

Jay Johnson:

Amen.

Mingo Palacios:

Don’t be caught in the trap that you actually can do more by doing more. I would say that to our listeners. Chuck, Jay, thank you so much for at least starting the conversation off. If people want to get information on the retreat itself, how do they do that?

Jay Johnson:

Mingo Palacios:

That’s awesome. Guys, thank you so much for the conversation. If you’re listening to this series, you’ll probably hear one or both of these guys in the next episodes to come. If it gave you some insight or if you knew somebody or you know somebody who would be encouraged by the conversation, I’d encourage you to tag them in on this episode or share it through your own channels. We love you guys. We’ll talk to you soon.

Mingo Palacios:

We hope today’s insights left you feeling inspired and propelled towards your greatest potential. Thanks again for joining us for another episode of the PD Podcast. Until next time.

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