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Image for the Leaders who last three-day summer intensive at Oak Hill

Challenging, rebuking, shaping, encouraging

Nathan Weston reflects on our three-day summer intensive, Leaders Who Last, at Oak Hill. The focus of the conference was resilience in ministry.

It was exactly the wrong time for this conference.

It’s late in the ministry year and I’m itching for a holiday – and yet there is so much more to do. Plans to make, people to meet, sermons to prepare, youth conferences on the horizon. How is it wise to give up three days of precious prep time and make the long trip down south to Oak Hill?

And what’s more, this promised to be that most dreaded of things, not just a conference, but an ‘interactive workshop with plenty of opportunities to practise and get feedback’. Not my cup of tea. Is it anyone’s?

And yet here I am, fresh from the long trip back home, giving thanks to God for a challenging, rebuking, shaping, encouraging, rebuilding, refreshing three days I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

Mark Pickles reminded us of the simple truth that the minister of God’s grace must be a recipient of it. Someone who wants to point people to the fountain of life had better stand close to that fountain daily, receiving the nourishment of the word of God and meditating on it, dissatisfied until the truths of the gospel have penetrated our heart and stirred our affections.

Kirsten Birkett revealed a surprising result from the world of psychotherapy that perhaps ought not to be surprising: that altruism, forgiveness, and above all thankfulness were scientifically proven to be characteristics of resilient people. If only we’d listened to the Bible saying this for thousands of years with all the authority of God behind it, and a coherent worldview which shows forgiveness and thankfulness are not just ‘helpful life tricks’, but the only rational response of the gospel of grace.

Lynne Wilson helped us to respond to conflict, which is the aspect of ministry which wearies, unseats and defeats so many pastors, causing us to run for the hills rather than wade into the messiness and pain of people’s lives. And yet with a biblical foundation – the peacemaking God showering us with grace in Jesus – we were encouraged and equipped to see situations of conflict as opportunities for growth in godliness as the Lord applies the salve of the gospel to broken and stubborn hearts.

And Richard Garnett made us talk to strangers. Better, he made us listen to people, truly listening well to those we are ministering to, listening to our own hearts by giving us space to share battles and struggles, listening to Jesus in his word speaking grace to our troubled and weary hearts.

In other words, it was exactly the right time for this conference.

Nathan Weston is Associate Pastor of Moorlands Evangelical Church, Lancaster.

Nathan Weston

Nathan Weston
14 July 2017

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