WHAT DO men, nature and the outdoors, sports and games, conversation, food, and messages of encouragement and accountability have in common: I’d spell it, R.E.T.R.E.A.T.
Run: to depart from the rat race for a few nights to regain a sense of what manhood is in the context with which we live. There’s nothing wrong with running when we know what we are running from, and when we run in order to gain balance.
Enjoy: fellowship with other men from the same church but from different walks of life; to really get to know them. Enjoyment is known in doing what we would not ordinarily do—in doing something intentional about the regard of our health and wellbeing.
Training: we want to continue as disciples; in the footsteps of the disciples of Jesus, to be trained in four messages—to dare to be: different, discerning, disciplined, and be Jesus’ disciple. Enduring messages help in God’s transformational process as we continue to be open to the Spirit’s leading.
Real: if a person cannot be real, who on Earth are they? It’s even worse to be a man and not be real, because there are women and children relying on us men to be real—and to be safe in that realness. Men’s retreats are an opportunity to be real and to reclaim our realness.
Eat: graze together. There was one thing that the Early Church did that helped them bond together so much in the love of Christ—they broke bread and ate together. Food disarms us and lubricates the social machinery enough to ensure people relax so they can grow together.
Aim: to aim higher than before. Not to get down on ourselves for missing the mark previously, there is the opportunity to set a higher mark and look, within the optimism of hope, that, in the Spirit’s power, it can be achieved. Retreat is about reviewing our goals and asking God to help us go higher.
Time: spending time with people with similar challenges and having time apart from loved ones helps us gain perspective. Such a thing is room for the senses to consider the truth upon reflection. We are not as bad or good as we often think we are.
When men (or any group for that matter) take time for a retreat or camp they stand to be blessed in ways they didn’t previously consider.
Men need time together for reconnection, for training in the Lord, to eat together, to enjoy activities with each other, to become real again, and to aim higher.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.