One of the interesting things about directing a ministry where you are the lead staff person, a van driver, data entry person, chair arranger, praise and worship leader, choir director, and the one who gives the devotions is that you don’t have to worry about who made the last mistake.  You know you did it.

At Special Gathering of Indian River, I’m that person and I’ve discovered more mistakes than I care to admit.  We are a ministry within the mentally challenged community in South Brevard and Indian River Counties, Florida.  We do classic ministry, discipleship and evangelism.

Once a year, we join five of the other Special Gatherings and together we take our members on a spiritual retreat/camp in Vero Beach.    As we approach the time for our get away, there are a multitude of things to do. And, alas, there are many opportunties to falter in preparing to transport some 200 people who are developmentally disabled with all their luggage to camp.  After they arrive, we will be responsible for them for four days.  My primary concern is their health and safety.

Some would think that I should be concerned about the spiritual aspects of our retreat and, yes, that is vital.  However, without due diligence, mistakes that may cost precious lives could be made.

We never lose sight of the fact that God is our source and our help.  We remain aware that God leads us into battle; and occasionally, he gives us a miracle of fire or wind.  Yet, for the most part, he expects that we give our best in daily service for him, which brings us back to due diligence.

Today a group of about 30 special needs ministry heads will meet in Chicago for what we call a FLY-IN.  Flying into a commercial hub is relatively inexpensive.  For the cost of an airline ticket, we will meet for about six hours at a large, public gathering place.  We will discuss the joys and concerns of heading a ministry for people who are developmentally disabled.  We are all looking forward to this time of fellowship and learning.  The idea was the brain child of Tony Piantine who heads Camp Daniel in Wisconsin.  Each year it has grown.

Just as Jesus took time to get away to spend time with his disciples, it is vital that each of us follow his example and come apart for a time away.  Most of us aren’t ever going to be in a ministry that is our occupation.  Yet, this exercise is still vital for your spiritual well-being and overall mental health.

Here are a couple of hints regarding this time.  1)  Be sure that you are gathering with people you have ministry experience in common.  2)  Be sure they are people there that you like and respect.  3)  Be sure there is an opportunity for you to speak with and fellowship with the people you respect.  4)  Be sure that you take time to enjoy yourself.  (Often Christians feel a tad guilty about enjoying themselves.)  5) Laugh.  6) Be sure that is an endless cup of coffee or a bottomless glass of iced tea available.

Do you have a time of celebration with people you love?  Have you found that getting away is a good thing or something to avoid at all costs?