At Hume Lake Christian Camp in Sierra Nevada, the idea of retreat, rest, and self care isn’t just a programmatic element inside the calendar year. It’s a biblical mandate, and something that ministry leaders often overlook in exchange for productivity. Hume’s burnout cure has benefits that are tough to measure, from breathing in the sweet pine air to making space for God to move in a fresh way.  

Two masters on this topic are Hume Camp Director, Jay Johnson and Pastor Chuck Bomar of Colossae Church in Portland, Oregon. As a 20-year Hume veteran, Jay has helped replicate the model at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego County. In addition to running the entire program, one of his responsibilities is being part of the pastors’ retreat.

While that may seem straightforward compared to a kids’ camp, in reality, reviving leaders who are running in the red, and have nearly tapped out, is a task that requires a great deal of planning.

“The reality is that the Sabbath is a command,” says Jay. “God did it on the seventh day, and rest is such an important part of the natural rhythm of life.”

While that command is known, it’s often ignored in church circles. In fact, it’s not uncommon to be part of a ministry that celebrates the things that will actually burn out leadership, instead of set them up in a way where their greatest gifts are revealed over time.

As Chuck explains, “We value the hard work and we should. But we also reward people that are overworking without protecting the commands of Scripture on the Sabbath.”

This merit badge that comes with grinding in ministry can be dangerous, especially when there is a reverence attached to it. Pastor Chuck leans on the example of being proactive with leaders, and “forcing” them to take rest. With his own staff, he makes sure that pastors are taking a sabbatical every seven years, and that anyone who takes a vacation is completely disconnected. With this willingness to rest and let go comes trust and dependence on God.

“It really comes down to your priorities and how you want to live life,” says Jay. “If you make taking time off a priority and taking care of yourself, there are checks and balances in that.

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church recommends that pastors divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually. Hume Lake offers a refuge to do just that, to open God’s Word, dig down deep into truth, and diffuse the church atmosphere so pastors can be themselves in a neutral environment.

This concept of retreating to advance may seem counterintuitive — to step back in order to prepare for what’s down the road — but that’s what Hume is all about.

“You have really two options,” says Chuck. “One is you can put your fingers in everything so that you feel like you have some sort of control, or you can realize you never had control in the first place and simply trust the Holy Spirit and other people.”