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David Peppler: An Invitation to Silence

Posted: 9/26/18 at 9:50am. Column by David Peppler.

Many members of clergy I know are Type A go-getters. They are energetic, enthusiastic, and somehow manage a multitude of tasks with ease.

I also know many who are extroverts. They also exert great energy with enthusiasm, but in calculated moments and in spurts for emergencies.

The difference between the two is the extroverts end the day with a cookout while the introverts cuddle with good books. What both types have in common is an essential need—opportunities to recharge.

My clergy friends, you are invited to the Gathering of Silence at CrossRoads Camp and Conference Center October 8-11, 2018. Please continue reading to find out what makes retreats so valuable!

As a pastor, I’m a busy person. Like in the business world, there are multiple layers to what congregational leaders do during the week. We simply add a weekly term paper and oral report. Our schedules fluctuate between regular routines and urgent needs.

Burnout is very real in this business, making self-care a constant need and challenge.

Ministers need opportunities to refuel their emotional and spiritual tanks, and the discipline of silence is a great place to start.

Ministers need opportunities to refuel their emotional and spiritual tanks, and the discipline of silence is a great place to start.

Silent contemplation is not easily achieved, but for ministry leaders, there are some specific benefits:

  • Silence offers an opportunity to slow the voices that occupy your head and heart.
  • Silence provides an open channel of communication with your audience of One.
  • Silence in times of contemplation and meditation is good for you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Silence leads you into the deep places of your own heart which you sometimes ignore in your busyness.
  • Silence regenerates your soul and leads you to the still, small voice you long to hear.
  • Silence reminds you of your place in God’s Kingdom work.

Silence can be effective if you can incorporate it into the rhythm of your life. Perhaps you can carve out 15 minutes of your daily routine, like a typical office morning or afternoon break. Either find a spot in your building or simply close your office door and sit in a different chair. Shut off your lights or just close your eyes. The world will still be there when you open them again.

Take a day or at least a half day weekly to get away. Perhaps there is a park nearby, or a beach, river, hiking trail, or library. You may want to take a book, your Bible, a notepad, or just yourself. I keep a lawn chair in the trunk of my car at all times. Shut off your phone and leave it in your car. It also will still be there when you return.

If your schedule allows, incorporate a “retreat day” into each month. This is not a sick day or day off for yard work or other projects. It is instead a deliberate attempt to shut down the cyclone of activity around your soul.

Go for a drive. Find a happy place to relax. You can stay home and read or meditate if you want, but you must promise not to allow work to occupy your mind. No phones, no texts, no emails, no social media—just you and God.

Finally, do something intentional annually. Your congregation should provide conference fees of sorts, so plan to use some of that for an extended escape to replenish. Do not use vacation time for this if at all avoidable. This is an investment your church should be making in you. After all, they benefit when you are spiritually filled and serving out of an authentic overflow.

I recommend silent retreats. The BGAV offers the Gathering of Silence. Consider this my personal invitation to you. Follow this link for more information. The cost is reasonable. The mountains are beautiful. The time is invaluable. The result is rest for your soul!

I have personally been part of several of these retreats and can testify that God speaks to me there. Your experience will be unique to you. I’m glad to share more with anyone who desires additional information or testimony. To register directly with CrossRoads Camp and Conference Center, use this link.

May God bless you…in silence!

Rev. David N. Peppler, Sr. is pastor of Chamberlayne Baptist Church,a BGAV-member congregation in Richmond, VA.