The Value of the Leadership Retreat
This last weekend, the whole Leadership Team of EBC, along with each of our wives, had the chance to spend the weekend together on a retreat. It would be a fair question to wonder what happens on a Leadership Team Retreat. The short answer is: Lots. But I want to give you a glimpse into three of the components of the retreat, because I think it is helpful to know.
Strengthening Our Marriages
One of the components to the weekend is that we had a bit of extra time to spend with our spouses. We all left our kids in the loving hands of friends and family, so that we could have a kid-free weekend. That wasn’t just for the sake of rest, though it certainly was an added blessing. It was so that each of the couples could spend uninterrupted time together talking, praying for and with one another, praying with other couples, and building one another up through encouragement and through sharing God’s Word. I would encourage all who are married to consider what it would take to get away for a day or two, and to be intentional about setting aside time for more than just fun, but also planning for opportunities to talk about your relationship, pray for and with one another, and encourage each other with God’s Word. It would cost dollars and time, but I’m convinced that is one way to wisely use both of those resources.
Praying for People
We also spent significant time on the Leadership Retreat praying. We prayed for you! Truly, we are burdened to see each person who is a part of EBC walk closely with Jesus, trust Him throughout all the highs, lows, and in-betweens of life, and to see the fruit of His Spirit growing in their lives. On several occasions, we broke up into pairs of couples and prayed for people and for ministries of EBC. We prayed for people who we know are hurting, asking God to bring great comfort. We prayed for people who are lost, asking God to reveal Himself to them in unmistakable ways. We prayed for people who are growing in big and small ways, asking that God would continue to encourage them as they walked faithfully with Him. We prayed for those who are not connected with others at EBC, that they would find and take opportunities to develop meaningful, Christ-centered relationships. And we prayed in many more specific ways for our church body, as we scanned the directory from cover to cover.
One of the tremendous blessings I’ve been able to experience as a part of the Leadership Team is great unity among the team members. We have a really interesting team, made up of people with different giftings, different personalities, and different opinions, too. And the team changes from year to year, as a person or two steps off after serving for a while, and a person or two is added. And even with those differences and changes, unity is still reachable. You may or may not know this, but as a team, we really don’t make decisions on a “majority rules” basis. Instead, we make decisions on the basis of consensus, which is to say we are all in agreement to move forward on a particular matter. Working on the basis of consensus requires trust with one another, and it also requires a willingness to speak up and speak out when you have a hesitation or a question on a given matter. So we worked to build unity and trust on our retreat. Simply having time together, and watching one another interact with their spouses, gives great insight into each member of the team. We all stayed in one big house together, so there was a lot of “facetime” with each other, and not much room to hide away and avoid interacting. Beyond just having lots of facetime with one another, we also were proactive in fostering trust and unity. One significant way we did that was on Friday night, when we each took a turn as couples sharing a pretty open and honest report on how we’re doing in our marriages, how we’re doing in our walk with God, how we’re doing in our ministry commitments, and whatever else was on our hearts to share. It takes several hours to hear everyone share, and then to take time to pray together for one another. And there’s a commitment to honesty and appropriate transparency as we all share together. It’s a little scary, and and at the same time, it’s wonderful, even when the personal report includes some significant areas where we need to grow. And through that open and honest conversation, we build trust with each other, and well as learning how we can continue to support and encourage one another.
That really is just a small look into a very full weekend. I share about the weekend, because I want you all to know that those who have been called by God to lead EBC for this season are genuinely committed to honoring Christ with their lives, and to helping the rest of the church body do the same. Each of us are so grateful and humbled by the high calling of being shepherds of God’s people at Evergreen. Please, as you remember, pray for us, that we would be honoring God with our lives, and that we would be attentive to His Spirit as He leads our church as the Chief Shepherd, to whom we each will give an account.