There is a difference between a “to do list” and a “master task list”. The to do list tends to be reactive. The master task list is more proactive and loaded with the things we should be doing, but never quite get around to. For example – going on a retreat to make sure you are spiritually full. Here are 3 reasons why you need to make retreats at least an annual thing that your do for yourself that will also help the teens.
1. Filling the Reservoir Versus Being a Channel - Youth ministry needs to flow from our spirituality not the other way around. If your only source of growing spiritually is “doing” ministry, then you are in danger of just doing things and events for teens and not modeling someone who simply spends time with the Lord. We should strive to “be” still with our Lord and allow our spirituality to overflow into our ministry. You can’t give young people something you don’t have. If we want the teens to grow in their faith – we need to be growing in ours.
“One would be wise to see themselves not merely as a channel, but a reservoir. For a channel simply transmits something from one place to another, without retaining a drop for itself. While a reservoir first, fills itself up, and then, without losing any of what it has, waters the fields it is meant to water.
- St. Bernard
2. To Gain a New Perspective - Sometimes it’s the things right in front of our face that we have the hardest time seeing. When we get away for a retreat, we often see things in a new light. A change of scenery free from distraction gives us new life and changes what we might be viewing as a burden into a realization it is a blessing.
“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.”
- St. Augustine of Hippo
3. It’s What Missionaries Do - Let’s face it if you view your ministry as merely a job, it will soon lose it’s glamour of doing something nice for teens. We end up burning out in ministry. The Church doesn’t need someone to merely do something nice, it needs radical missionaries living their baptismal call, wanting to dive into the lives of young people and lead them closer to Christ in the midst of this current culture of death. If we want to be a missionary, we need to do what missionaries do. They spend time praying, going on retreat and deepening their relationship with our Lord. There is no substitute for developing a rhythm of prayer in our lives. Going on retreat can reinforce or kick start this rhythm of prayer. Teens want to encounter missionaries – is that what they encounter when they are with you?
“The rediscovery of the value of one’s baptism is the basis of the missionary commitment of every Christian, because we see in the Gospel that he who lets himself be fascinated by Christ cannot do without witnessing the joy of following in his footsteps… we understand even more that, in virtue of baptism, we have an inherent missionary vocation.”
- Pope Benedict XV
It is my prayer that you will take these words to heart and make a master task list that includes taking a retreat. It might be the best thing you do for the teens that you are journeying with.