We are back from the land of the mountains and Asian and German tourists.
We were in Banff these past three days and we were to be on retreat Lauralea and I. While I was thinking there would be nicely little for me to do this year because I am no longer the conference Ministerial chair, and that I would laze about, retreating and thinking deep thoughts and so on, I was misguided.
I know that for me the bulk of the way I do ministry is through conversations; listening, thinking, responding, then listening once again and off we go. These past three days turned out to be days of much ministry and the opportunities to care and serve came thick and fast.
The speaker was great and challenged me on so many levels, and I know many others were also encouraged and challenged by his call to make good healthy choices for ourselves and our internal lives.
But I am staggered by the hunger of the hearts of the leaders of the Church these days. Hunger to be listened to and to be understood. Desiring to be heard, they share much. Many look for mentors and people who have already gone where they are going, but people who have done that journey well.
So many of our leaders are young and desire helpful graceful conversations that build them up in good ways. Conversations where Christ can minister through the connections of the joints. This is so good, compared to a generation that felt it needed to have it all right, and to give the impression that they did have it all right.
I spent the first evening there feeling like the guy in the room with the "Old Fart" hat on his head, and then I just rejected that reality and began looking for Jesus in the limited time we had away. We did some great worship singing together, and as I said David Kersten spoke well and used language that was challenging and shaping for our hearts to hear.
And the conversations continued, and grew and multiplied. So many conversations that got personal so quickly. Probably more than anything else, the conversations were the largest part of the time away. And they weren't conversations like "I'm thinking of leaving my spouse, can we talk a bit?" They were conversations about life and living it out and what did you do in that situation and how has that worked out for you and I'm not sure what to do about this and where is God when its difficult. Just honest conversations with people who want more than "How are you? I'm fine" chats.
And I remember how when I was their age I used to long for someone who had been in ministry for a long time who might talk with me. Someone I could ask where was God when that family found their son hanging in death. Or I could ask what should I do when God seems so very silent for a long time, or I could tell about my pain and frustration with a work that seemed to demand even my family time. I remember longing for someone I could talk to for an hour or two and who would listen to me and not cut me off when I needed to talk.
I see some of that in the eyes of these young leaders, and maybe it takes a weekend like this to help me to see it, or remember it maybe. I'm not the guy who comes in and has all the answers and offers them like bouquets of flowers to all wether they are asked for or not. I have my own insecurities about how much to inflict myself on others, but I saw in many of them my younger self, looking for a hope or an answer or maybe even just a conversation.
So a good many conversations were had this week, and prayers will go up on behalf of those who walk through these seasons of wanting to serve well mixed with self doubt.
Yes, much kingdom work happened this weekend, and God is good.