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Feeling Guilty & Intentional Rest  //  Why simply talking about spiritual formation isn't enough.

28 Jan Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Feeling Guilty & Intentional Rest
Feeling Guilty & Intentional Rest

Do you ever find yourself talking more about something you’re passionate about, but not actually doing it? I hate to admit it, but I find myself in these situations.

I was in a meeting six months ago where we were discussing the need for ministries to provide opportunities for their staff to rest and be spiritually healthy. We dialogued about the challenges that ministry professionals face. Some shared personal stories about their struggles in their current positions. I shared my heart for ministries to make sure that their staff are healthy, spending time with God and enjoying His rest. As I listened and as I talked, I started to feel guilty.


Because I am the very person who could create a culture in our organization in which our staff has the freedom to prioritize rest. As the leader, I could encourage staff to make sure that getting everything accomplished was not as important as one’s personal journey with God. I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I was going to say that we don’t promote busyness, I needed to take steps within our organization to make it happen.


After this meeting, two big changes took place – one in myself and another in our job descriptions.

I need to make some intentional changes within my leadership. I needed not only to encourage, but provide opportunities for staff to rest. Therefore, I took some retreat time myself. I spent time in prayer trying to figure out how the culture at CCM could promote rest for staff. I considered how I could personally promote health. (I should probably explain what I mean by rest. I am not talking about taking naps or watching movies – both of which I enjoy! What I am referring to is a deeply spiritual, emotional and physical rest; the kind of rest that is required to restore your soul and encourage your walk with God.)

Out of my time with God, I discovered that it needed to start with me. If I wasn’t willing to model rest, I couldn’t expect others to feel the freedom to do it. After all, if we don’t keep pace with the boss, then… well, we can let our imaginations finish the sentence. As humbling as that realization was, it was necessary in order to move our team forward.

The second step was for monthly, required spiritual retreat days as part of our paid staff’s job description. I learned from another leader in Project Renovation some of the ways she leads her team. We decided to implement one of their policies.  Full time employees are now required to take an 8 hour retreat day once a month and part-timers are to take a 4 hour retreat. These are not times to hang out at home and watch TV. These are intentional times in which staff are expected to leave home and use another space to be with God. It is a time to step away from work and be with God. It is a time for listening to Him and being more aware of His presence and movement in their lives.  Staff are asked to identify and share their retreat dates at the beginning of the month so that the space can be protected and so that everyone else can be praying for them during their time away.


I’m happy to say that we’ve found this standard works well for us as a team. We’ve begun to embrace this new vision of balancing work and intentional rest, and have found it impacts our intentionality throughout the week.

Finally, I realize as I write for Project Renovation, I share part of my journey as a leader with you. Sometimes there are highs to write about, but a lot of times there are these humbling experiences to share! I would love to hear how you personally or how your team incorporates or encourages healthy rest on a regular basis.

Meredith Dahl
Executive Directory at Cross Connection Ministries
Meredith is the Executive Director of Cross Connection Ministries in New Holland, PA. She has received a Bachelor of Science in Student Ministry and a Master of Arts in Ministry (Concentration in Student Ministry) from Lancaster Bible College. Meredith and her husband live in New Holland with their baby boy Liam and love living, working and volunteering in their community.