Growing Spiritual Redwoods
This morning I spent time browsing the many conferences that are available for preachers and pastors, leadership and laity on the web. Not for any particular reason. I guess just trying to keep my ear to the ground. There are several. The speakers are some of our nations best and brightest. They appear to be challenging and provide for some incredible opportunities to sharpen the skills of those who serve in ministry.
Then, the most unique and inexplainable thought crossed my mind. Which conference appeals to me at this season in my life? Many are aware that our family is experiencing a season of praise and prayer. We are praising God as my wife and I await the birth of our second child – Brennon-Michael Mitchell. However, we are intensely prayerful as my wife has been diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer simultaneously. “We know that all things work together for the good to them that love the Lord and to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)” But, this time as been an unexpected and unyielding season of personal reflection. I have wrestled with the many questions that come as a result of doing some soul searching. Which, perhaps, may be the reason I was searching the web – attempting to find some conference that would be effective and efficient for this place in my life.
What I found was the usual topics and themes – Church Growth, Church Administration, Social Justice and Expository Preaching. I am sure this is going to come across as a surprise to many. Yet, it is probably going to be a statement that most would privately concur. I do not need another conference on any of the above topics. While they have their place in the purpose and program of the church; what I need is something more. Conferences seem to speak to professional issues many congregations and pastors face. They do not speak to the private issues. This time in my life has revealed that I do not need to grow a church; I need to grow my soul. I do not need to be taught how to use social media, social justice, or the sermon to reach more. What I need is the road map to reach ME.
We preach that spiritual conditioning produces the best quality of life. But for some strange reason, pastors frequently compartmentalize professional ministry and personal faith so that the two cannot draw on each other. In many cases, as my own, we began to function as a spiritual perfunctory preacher and not a passionate pastor. God intends every aspect of my life and ministry to be intricately woven around Christ. He wants life and ministry to be tied together with meaning, value and beauty.
The question I want you to answer is one I am afraid to answer – Has my own preaching or ministry made me a better Christian? If it hasn’t, then what do you think it has done to those who we preach and minister to. I pray that I will go beyond professionalized ministry to a personal pilgrimage with God and view ministry as a colossal opportunity to grow a great soul.