This is my first Sunday on the cruise. I have found this morning that my balcony makes a nice sanctuary. There is a light breeze and the water is beautiful, and except for the occasional sneeze from my neighbor’s balcony, it is very quiet.

So today, in this quiet place, I am praying for my friends in ministry. I am praying for Tim Passmore, Troy Freeman, Andy Botts, and my son, Josh Martin as they lead at Woodland, my home church. I am praying for Mark Alt, Nathan Gaddis, and Seth White as they lead at my adopted church, The Bridge. I am praying for Don Davidson, Bill Ireland, and Jack Millwood as they speak at the churches that we partner with in Design 373. And I am praying for my friend and pastor Paul Strozier as he speaks at Meadow Park in Ohio.

It is amazing to me to think that across the world Christians are meeting to worship and learn. It is amazing to me that I can have my own church service on the balcony of a cruise ship by listening to Worship Central and reading the Sermon on the Mount from the Message. And God is here.

Here’s the thing. Sitting here this morning I am reminded again of the importance of stepping aside. Pulling away for quietness with the Father.

Ministry is hard. The ministers that I named above are precious friends of mine, and I have seen the battle scars that they carry from doing ministry. They serve, they pray, they cry. They are fathers and husbands and grandfathers. They work long hours and meet the needs of their congregants by being there at their crisis times. They have amazing partners in ministry in their wives, and are surrounded by great congregations.

But it’s hard. The burden of staying connected to God and sharing His word with His people is challenging. It’s at times overwhelming. And people can be mean. Yep. I’m not a ministry wife any more so I can say it. People can really say mean stupid stuff. They attack. They go to Sunday lunch and evaluate and critique the service. Or my personal favorite is when they war over which songs we should use to worship the Lord. I’m pretty sure there are times we just need to be quiet and let the rocks cry out in praise to Him. Or in my case, the waves.

Okay, stepping off my soapbox now. But here’s the takeaway from this rant. These men need time away. They need time to be alone with the Father. To reconnect.

It doesn’t have to be a cruise. It can be a couple of days. But I believe it should be alone. A personal retreat.

So, I’m challenging each of my ministry friends that read this to plan a personal retreat. Ministers and ministry spouses. Use this blog to say, “Hey, is that something you would want to do? Get away alone?” And follow it by, “I think it’s something you need to do.” We all need this. Minsters, wives of ministers, husbands of ministers. We need times of personal retreat to recenter and recharge. Just do it.

If you are not in ministry, use this as a springboard to talk to your ministry friends and suggest it. Help make it happen. Offer the cabin or the hotel. Offer to help with the children. Do what you can to gift them with this personal time. I have done that with ministry friends before and you will be blessed immeasurably by providing it for them.

In case you missed it…I’m not talking about a couple’s retreat. It’s not a husband and wife thing. This is a retreat for one.

I’m a big ole extravert. Love to laugh, love a party, love to be around people, love to share the burdens of people. But oh…how I am enjoying this solitude.

I love these words of Jesus:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 28-30 (MSG)

Blessings my friends, and enjoy the Sabbath!