This is Pastoral Refreshment Conference season. These annual conferences for leaders and leadership couples were the genesis of Living Leadership and they remain the highlight of our year. This week one has been running in Hertfordshire (PRC Central) and next week we have two in partnership with Keswick Ministries in the Lake district (PRC Lakes). Over the years, we have heard story after story of how the Lord has used these oases of refreshment to rekindle joy, pinpoint sin, restore marriages, sustain ministries and renew vision. We pray this year will be no different, especially for those leaders who are in the midst of deep challenges in their families, congregations or denominations.
An annual conference to refresh ministers is a wonderful thing (I think that’s not merely organisational hype!) but I’m sure most of us are aware of the dangers of relying on conferences to sustain us. They serve like a spiritual injection of adrenaline. We come away full of zeal and hopefully with some substance to fuel it, but they can only carry us so far. The high is often followed by a low. We must not become conference junkies, lurching from one gathering to the next and never knowing how to sustain spiritual health in the valleys.
That is why Living Leadership has a programme of Refresh Ministries that are available around the year. Twice a month we have one hour on Zoom on a Wednesday morning in Refresh Network Online. The format is simple – 20 minutes of input followed by time in groups facilitated by Living staff and Leadership Associates to discuss, share and pray. For spouses we have a monthly online Spouses Community. We are also developing Refreshment Days a couple of times a year in regions of the UK and Ireland, allowing leaders and couples to take a day away to be fed and encouraged. We have dates planned or in planning in May and June for East Anglia, Ireland (north and south), the Midlands, Scotland, South East England and Yorkshire. Full details are (or will soon be) here. Around this rhythm of opportunities for refreshment, our Associates and ministry staff are available to provide one to one refreshment through mentoring and pastoral care for leaders when they need it. If you would appreciate that support, please contact us here.
Living Leadership exist for one simple aim – to help Christian leaders live joyfully in Christ and serve him faithfully. Our staff team and growing network of Associates in the UK and Ireland and Affiliates in other European countries pray this for leaders regularly. The following prayer is the kind of prayer we pray for leaders. Perhaps you could join us in praying it for each other or for your leaders (just change the word ‘we’ to ‘they’ throughout)?
Loving Father, Almighty God,
You are the One who refreshes our souls.
Your Words are like sweet like honey to us
They are perfect and revive our souls.
You have poured out your Spirit on us like water on a thirsty land,
He springs up to eternal life in us and flows from our inmost being.
Yet we are often weary, Father.
We do not draw on you, the spring of living water, but dig broken cisterns.
We look for consolation and security in false gods not in you, the God of all comfort.
Even in our service for you we succumb to selfish ambition or self-preservation.
We are prone to fear and please people rather than you.
We are tempted to give in to temptation or give up the fight.
Father, we cast ourselves on you again.
We love you because you first loved us and in this we find security.
We trust you and your promises and so we offer ourselves to your service.
We hope in you to renew our strength so we can run and not grow weary.
Father, do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
May we seek your kingdom and righteousness first.
May we watch over the souls of your people as those who will give account.
May we labour faithfully among your people for the sake of the gospel.
We confess our limitations and our tendency to transgress them.
Teach us to rest in you and to work hard in your strength.
Teach us to care for the bodies you gave us and for the people you call us to serve.
Teach us to obey you as your beloved children and to love your children well.
Our joy in in Christ Jesus our Lord,
In whose name we pray,