During this last twelve-month period, we have lost at least six pastoral colleagues from ministry for various reasons. Every time I reflect on this, it evokes a heart wrenching response of sadness and empathy. There are always seasons in life with natural shifts in employment and calling, however it is never easy to say goodbye to colleagues when the circumstances are unwarranted or difficult. Each time someone leaves their post unexpectedly, something groans in the heavenly space – another hero lost in battle for the cause of the Kingdom.
I remember as a young youth pastor looking ahead with reckless optimism and naivety at the forward journey of ministry with fervent hopes for a trouble free future, only to see ministers and colleagues falling off the edge of their calling and barely able to sustain their faith, let alone recover.
Here in Australia, John Mark Ministries estimates there are at least 13,000 ex pastors within our nation. I can’t help thinking that most of these men and women started out with high hopes and expectations, only to find themselves bereft of energy, no longer able to fulfil their roles and obligations.
There have been numerous occasions over the last decade when ministry colleagues have pressed me for more ministry resources to maximise ministry outcomes. My response has always been that soul care comes before ministry output. If ever the enemy has a ploy, it is to fill our lives with so much busyness that we lack the time for rest and renewal.
The month of May is our launch of ‘Soul Strength’ for Fresh Hope. I am so excited that we are taking time to discuss and resource the more important conversations of self-care, personal spiritual growth and resilience. The key orientation comes from Jesus’ own words in Matthew 16:26
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
We want you to be around for the long haul. We desire for every ministering person to live their calling with maximum impact while pursuing their own spiritual growth. How we orientate our lives for input and output is such an important conversation.
Clearly this is about choices and confronting the spiritual battle governed by powers and principalities. May you find courage to self-audit your ministry practices, allowing yourself the grace and freedom to slow down a bit to hear the ‘still small voice’ of the Abba who beckons you in love to be less driven and more present. May you be willing to be accountable to others for your ministry practice, so as to be ‘teachable in spirit’ and humble in heart.
I so hope you can get to Collective this year. You won’t regret it.
Executive Ministry Director