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Balance: Spiritual Life Fall Retreat

Tom Boone, chair of LCC's theology department, shares a personal account of experiencing ministry burnout with LCC students at the annual Spiritual Life Fall Retreat in early October. He led the first of three sessions about balancing the the call to radical faith without suffering spiritual burnout.
Josh provides instruction and leadership before lunch. The overnight
retreat took place during the final part of our Indian Summer, making for
a delightful time.
Numerous times in the gospel story, we observe Jesus retreat. In Luke 5, as it details Jesus' ministry growing and describes the way people were drawn to him, it even notes, "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (NIV, emphasis mine)

We can speculate why. Maybe Jesus was demonstrating a habit we should also observe. Or maybe Jesus was an introvert and being surrounded by crowds of people was exhausting for him.

I don't think the "why" is what's important in this instance. Rather, it's the rhythm: moving towards the world and engaging, then retreating and practicing self care. Breathing in and breathing out. The bass drum hits on counts 1 and 3, the snare on 2 and 4.

Balance is important. But not to the world.

Proof: the world doesn't celebrate people who have balanced lives. It's the ones who "produce numbers," "move product," and "get results" that we thrust into the spotlight.

Shared meals and common tables: building
community since FOREVER.
This should be a warning to those seeking to follow Christ, because it flies in the face of one of the greatest commandments: love your neighbor.

If you love your neighbor, then you learn to see and value them as more than what they produce. Let's be honest: if you only say you love someone because you get something out of the relationship, who are you actually loving?

The idea of experiencing shalom implies God desires for us to encounter a fullness of life here and now. That fullness doesn't happen when a life is out of balance.

Combine that with the idea that loving someone involves caring for their well being.

What message are we sending when we celebrate those who are not pursuing balanced lives?

Of course those who impact the world in a major way can have balance in their lives -- success and shalom are not mutually exclusive. The question at hand is, more or less, how do you define success?

Seeking balance in our own lives is an important, albeit difficult, task. Let us not make icons out of those in ministry whose lives may lack rhythmic balance.
The retreat took place a short walk from the beach. All photos courtesy of Alisha!