On Monday morning we hitched up the caravan and hit the road bound for Mandurah and the annual WA Baptist Pastor’s Retreat. We have been getting along to this event for around 25 years now.
But this year was a little different.
Normally a Pastor’s church will pay for him/her and spouse to attend. But this year we aren’t employed by a church so the question came up, ‘are we goanna shell out the $550 to attend?’
It never seems like a lot of money when your church pays, but it feels quite significant when it’s your own cost to bear. I began thinking of all the things I could do with those $$, and that’s not even counting the money we won’t earn while we are away… It’s a costly venture to attend an event like this.
But, truth is we can do a Bali trip, any time during the year, we can buy new airbags for the Ranger any time we want to as well. But there is only one of these events each year – a kind of gathering of the tribe. And after 30 odd years I feel a deep affinity for the people in this clan. These are ‘our people’. I feel that deeply and I suspect they will be our people to the end.
There is a fondness for this tribe that goes beyond any kind of duty. Perhaps longevity does that to you. If you only drop in on these events occasionally then you might think it’s all about the quality of the speaker, or about taking time out from the weekly duties. I’m sure those things are part of the retreat ‘equation’ but an occasional ‘drop in’ doesn’t allow rich, deep, significant relationships to form and this is where these events have borne the most fruit for us personally.
It has always been a privilege to sit with some of of our older leaders and to tap into their wisdom and grace – to have people we can look to as examples of ‘finishing well’. To catch up with younger leaders and hear their joys and frustrations. I am also always stunned at how many people I don’t know too each year – fresh faces – newbies to the tribe. I hope they find their place As veterans of this event we come quite intentionally to reconnect with comrades in ministry, but also to be on the lookout for those conversations that encourage, provoke and inspire and there have been several already while here.
Yeah – there was a speaker – Steve McCready did a fantastic job of calling us back to simple discipleship and love of Jesus. But, some years the speakers have been wonderful and other years not so good. I don’t remember when it was that I stopped paying attention to who was speaking, but I do know there came a moment when we said ‘ we will be there regardless.’
Money well spent?
Yep. You betcha