By Jeremy Hatfield, pastor of The Church at Tubac, Tubac –
Distressed, Discouraged, Disheartened
Relaxed, Refreshed, Recharged
These two lists of opposing adjectives likely described the same people only two days apart. Many ministry couples arrived at the 2018 Pastors & Wives Retreat with downcast hearts but returned home to ministry invigorated by the Holy Spirit.
At registration, couples received books, goodies, and $50 for Friday’s dinner. The retreat opened with dinner where the expected dry banquet chicken was replaced by a delicious steak (Seriously! How good was that steak?!).
We were then entertained by Harris III, who uniquely combined his skills as a master illusionist with compelling gospel encouragement. As he deceived with illusions, he cautioned about the potential deceptions those in ministry are tempted to believe (“if I pastored a bigger church, I’d be more valuable to God’s kingdom”). Virtually everyone returned for his show the following night, when he reminded ministry couples of God’s lavish love for them.
Thursday night’s ice cream dessert social was accompanied by an incredible mariachi band. Between bites of ice cream, old friendships were renewed and new ones begun. Some conversations consisted of solemnly sharing burdens, while others were characterized by deep belly laughs. God used both to encourage couples according to their need.
On Friday morning, Mark and Janet Dance shared their struggles and victories in ministry and demonstrated that ministry is the one profession requiring a healthy home life. They urged attendees to prioritize their relationships with Jesus first, our spouse second, and others next. Friday afternoon allowed free time to golf, lounge by the pool, or nap. The $50 gift enabled couples to enjoy a meal out by themselves (without the kids!) or with another couple.
The retreat concluded Saturday morning when the Holy Spirit produced a family atmosphere where we worshiped together, shared burdens and joys, and prayed for one another. David Johnson encouraged couples with a word God had given him as “pastor to pastors.” Couples lingered in conversations and embraces before leaving relaxed, refreshed, and recharged.
Charles Spurgeon wrote in Lectures to My Students a chapter appropriately entitled “The Minister’s Fainting Fits” where he said: “Our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression. Who can bear the weight of souls without sometimes sinking to the dust? … Such soultravail as that of a faithful minister will bring on occasional seasons of exhaustion, when heart and flesh will fail.” The truth that ministry produces “seasons of exhaustion” highlights the importance of this retreat where ministry couples were emboldened to return to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12) and implore people on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The retreat was largely funded by the Arizona Mission Offering and Cooperative Program, allowing pastors to attend at a fraction of the actual cost. To all who contribute to the Arizona Mission Offering and Cooperative Program, from a pastor who was greatly blessed by this retreat: THANK YOU!