Pastors, don’t be a Martha
The first ever FIEC Pastoral Retreat in Scotland took place in Edinburgh over the summer giving pastors the chance to recharge – as Andy Hunter reflects.
So often in ministry the first casualty of busyness is the pastor’s own quality time with the Lord. The first FIEC Pastoral Retreat north of the border was a chance for pastors and ministry workers to take some time out for spiritual refreshment.
For pastors constantly ‘giving out’ there is an ever present danger of becoming dry and professional in ministry. So taking time to focus on their own soul and be ‘recharged’ in their love for the Lord is not a luxury for pastors, but crucial if they are to be spiritually fruitful.
In all nine pastors gathered along with Pastoral Ministries Director Richard Underwood and I for 24 hours of fellowship, biblical encouragement and private devotional time.
After each meal the group gathered together for some devotional thoughts. Richard unpacked some of the lessons from the story of Mary and Martha, and encouraged the group with Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts.” I reflected on Psalm 32 and the importance of confession and the blessings of forgiveness. Each of these times included discussion and group prayer.
Otherwise the Retreat was unprogrammed in order to give the majority of the time for private prayer, reading and personal reflection. Held in the Faith Mission College in Edinburgh those attending were able to use the college facilities including the library, study rooms, the adjacent bookshop and café, along with the student lounge and private bedrooms. A nearby park also offered somewhere to go walking and ‘smell the roses’.
Having a group together also gave the chance for pastors to chat, share wisdom and pray for each other. The opportunity to be able to share and speak privately with fellow pastors is one way group retreats can be a particular blessing.
Encouraging Pastors to press pause
The benefit of FIEC organising a Retreat like this is in helping pastors to do something they want to do but often struggle to schedule or keep to. The reality for many pastors is that dates marked off as ‘quiet days’ often aren’t taken because other workload feels more pressing at the time.
Further, because the pastor is often the only one involved in such diary commitments it’s all too easy to cancel or postpone them. It can also be a struggle to find somewhere suitable for such times (home or church office are rarely ‘distraction free’). Hence the value of being able to book something in advance with others that is set-up especially for that purpose.
All attending have been hugely positive about the Retreat and have expressed their hope that it could be become a regular event in the Scottish FIEC calendar.
So please give thanks for the blessing and encouragement experienced by all those attending. Pray that its positive effects will be ongoing in the lives of the pastors and their churches. Pray that personal devotional time will be a regular and kept part of pastor’s schedules in all of our fellowships.