My family and I have enjoyed a wonderful weekend away in the Lake District. Not only was it an opportunity to celebrate our third son’s (Luke’s) fifteenth birthday, we also met up with 3 families – the Mantles from Nottingham, the Sutcliffes from Darlington and the Ramages from Ilkley. That was the main reason for the weekend – to meet together – and it was great spending time based at Abbot Hall in Grange-over-Sands. There are lots of things I appreciated about the weekend. Here are four.

Walking. We did two good walks including one in and around Cartmel. The scenery was lovely and the fresh air tired us all out helping us sleep well!

Eating. A decent breakfast is always appreciated by me, especially if it includes bacon! And we shared a fantastic meal together on the Saturday evening, finished off by a good platter of cheese which resulted in a thought-provoking discussion about the gender of cheeses. So, for instance, I discovered that ‘Camembert is a man’s cheese, whereas Brie is a girly cheese’. Fascinating!

Praying. I appreciated looking out over a wonderful view as I read the Scriptures and prayed early on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The beauty of creation stirs up praise from deep within. And there were two opportunities to pray for healing for various people – both of which it seems resulted in some decent measure of healing. I await to hear how things are.

Talking. This is probably the best thing about the weekend. Chatting together. Listening. Asking questions about how everyone is doing. I enjoyed going round and catching up with everyone as we walked outdoors. Hearing some of the stories of what’s going on in everyone’s lives. The good things. The funny things. The difficult things. The stuff of life. It was as we talked together that friendships and relationships were renewed.

This weekend reminds me that investing in relationships is important. No – more than that, it’s crucial. For someone like me, who’s often happy with my own company, I mustn’t forget that. At times I have to really work at. It. But it’s worth it. Because we’re made for relationships (Matthew 22:37-38): relationship with God and relationships with others.

As I go to Liverpool today for the New Wine North & East Leaders Conference I will be spending time with more people. No doubt there’ll be lots of brilliant things there including great worship and teaching. And we’re praying that the Lord will come in power, filling and equipping all present for the missional work he has for us. But a key component will be the people. And one of the best things about a conference is the conversation. The networking. The sharing of stories. The tossing around of ideas. The informal prayers people pray in the coffee break.

This again reminds me of the importance of relationships. When I’m too busy I neglect relationships. So a great reason for slowing down, is to prioritise relationships.

Are you doing that? Are you prioritising relationships?