A talk at New Wine North a couple of years ago cited a US leader who argued that to be fully effective he needed to spend 50% of his time on personal renewal - time to reflect, read, research, pray etc., so that in the time when he was engaged in ministry he could give of his best. Don't you love stats like that? August is normally the time when I try to do a bit of my own renewal time, as it's quieter in church life, evening meetings dry up, and people are away on hols.
Not sure how I'll cope next year, as we'll have to start keeping to school hols for our own holidays, rather than going away in June and then having the full summer break available for pit stops. In the meantime the month ahead includes a couple of days at New Wine, a 4-day retreat, a couple of reading days, and some time hosting and visiting family. There's always a danger of compressing this sort of stuff into 1 month, thus making it busier than all the other 12!
My aim over the year is to have a quiet day every 2-3 months, a reading day every month, a reading week in Jan-Feb time, between 5 and 10 days at conferences or training events, and inbetween a regular rhythm of just meeting up for coffee/food and prayer with other people. (Speaking of which, very nice lunch at the Bird In Hand, North Curry with Steve Tilley today.) Church leaders get encouraged to do this sort of stuff, and it would be great if as a whole church we had an ethos of renewal which promoted people spending time training and praying and finding their own sources of new energy and ideas.
The other thing buzzing around is that even blogging about this might get people saying 'lazy vicars, all they do is swan around eating and putting their feet up'. Eugene Peterson (who Richard Frank is blogging about at the moment) has pertinent things to say about the 'Unbusy Pastor' and how busyness is a sin in those called to spiritual leadership. Without time to reflect, pray, seek God, we end up doing a job rather than offering a ministry, but in a culture which prizes busyness and 'results' it's often hard to give ourselves permission to be unbusy.