Kari and I spent the first half of this week at a pastor/wives retreat with some of the other couples from our staff.

Our elders have always valued opportunities for our pastors and their wives to get away for a time of refreshment and prayer. We used to go to a really nice retreat center in Dallas but chose to go in a different direction a few years ago when the economy started going downhill. A generous family in our church has a ranch south of Fort Worth that allows us to have all the fun at a fraction of the cost.

We don't work on retreats. We have perfectly good conference rooms and offices in Fort Worth for working. Our primary goal on retreats is to connect with each other and pray.

It's time well spent. Every year since the economy tanked, we've asked the elders to cancel the retreat and save the money. Every year they've refused. And every year on the way home I make a few phone calls to tell them "thanks" for making the investment.

It's critical for our staff team to care about each other as people, not just colleagues. The only way to accomplish that is to know each other as people rather than just colleagues. If all we do together is work, our relationships would be awfully shallow. Our elders want better than that, so they make it a priority to invest in that direction. We're not a perfect staff, but I think we're closer than we were at this time last week.