November 24, 2022

Reflections from the Clergy and Congregational Well-being Conference 

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This last October, I had the honour of attending a conference at Duke University in North Carolina. The topic was on congregational and clergy health in the church. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many people brought together by their love of God and his Church, and their desire to see leaders in Ministry thrive. There was such diversity at this conference; Denominational heads, Practitioners, Researches from twenty-eight different denominations, a hundred and ten organisations, twenty-seven US states and three countries. The perspectives ranged from conservative and traditional, liberal and experimental; but we were all there with one similar goal; because of difficulties with mental, spiritual and physical health in the church, we seek to strengthen and heal our clergy and congregations. 

God cares for his leaders

It made me think of the importance of community and mentorship. Working alone on a problem can feel isolating and futile when you look at the massive amount of change that needs to be done. So it is important to consider that you are just one person. One of my favourite stories in the Bible is when Elijah ran into the wilderness. He was afraid and exhausted, being persecuted by Jezabel and fearing for his life. He left his servant and retreated into the wilderness where he lay down and hoped to die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4 NIV). Instead of punishing Elijah for running away, or allowing him to give up, the Lord sent angels to feed him and allowed him to rest. Seeing that Elijah was still weary, the Lord said to him, 

You are not alone in this

“Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:15-18 NIV).

God cares about us and is doing something beautiful for his church

The Lord knows that we are human; we grow tired and afraid and frustrated… we burn out. He replenished Elijah, restored his strength, and commissioned him to pass on what he had received. Elijah mentored Elisha to succeed him. Sitting at the Common table at this conference made me realise God was providing a support system for us all; God cares about us and is doing something beautiful for his church and his people.

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