Too many pastoral leaders are isolated, ground-down by the rough chisel of people’s warped expectations, and filled with worry that they really are not making any meaningful difference. I should know. I have been there. The fact is, it is one of the devil’s most familiar tactical approaches with pastors and their families.
So when an opportunity comes along to blow fresh wind into the tattered sails of such as these, it is a joy and a privilege. And that is precisely what we at Bethel Church have the honor of doing for the next few days as pastoral leaders and their spouses join us from over thirty churches in our region to connect, worship, pray, learn, and otherwise be deeply refreshed.
For Bethel Church it is an opportunity to wash feet. Our renowned chef and culinary guru Robert Jones is preparing a five-course meal as a gift for every pastor and his wife—a banquet of kindness and grace that we trust will be a highlight for fellowship and encouragement. A handful of our ministry team are leading workshops over the weekend, joining with other worthy presenters, addressing issues from post-modernism and the church to rebuilding the fallen spiritual tent of the heart. Sewn throughout the fabric of the gathering our whole team is “all hands on deck” serving graciously the men and women who come who, for perhaps the first time in a while, just need to be served.
The value of this hit me the other night in a very simple and small way. Bethel Church and Triumph Lutheran Church chose to team up this year to share a couple of important Holy Week festivities. Our friends from Triumph Lutheran joined Bethel Church for our Good Friday service, which was absolutely spectacular in its modesty and reflection of the cross. On Maundy Thursday the Bethel family joined the Triumph Lutheran family in celebrating the Lord’s Supper. It was amazing because of its beauty and simplicity. I want to really commend my friend Pastor Jeff Seaver for his leadership in this regard. Nonetheless, while sitting with my family that evening at Triumph Lutheran I was served communion as the ushers passed the meal around the room, and it hit me: it was the first time that I have been personally served the Lord’s Supper in years. I could not help but shed some tears as I thought about the precious gift which was not only Jesus’ death for me, but the simple act of being a leader who received, and that from a vantage point of gratitude and not obligation.
Which takes me back to the value of our congregation hosting these dear men and women from throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, eastern Montana and western Minnesota. What an honor to serve them these days should be.