The South Georgia Annual Conference met from June 3 – 5, in Macon, Georgia. This meeting takes place once a year and is the time for the conference to handle the business of the church. I was not able to attend, but did watch on the live stream online. One of the wonderful benefits of technology. As the conference drew to a close Bishop King shared some important thoughts with the clergy and lay members of the conference. I would like to share with you these thoughts and some of my own reflections.
Our bishop regularly greets the members of the conference by saying, “Hello beautiful people.” And he does so with such a warm smile it is hard not to smile back, knowing that this is a sincere greeting from him. I hope I never take it for granted. I am always left with the impression that the bishop really means it and he wants us to believe it for ourselves. We are a beautiful people. Not because of anything intrinsic within us, but because of who we have become and are becoming in Jesus.
Bishop King then said to those in attendance and those of us viewing online, “Your call is still calling.” He shared some thoughts on what he meant, but I was left with a stark and sharp image in my mind. For those of us who are born again and called of God to serve, there will NEVER be a time when God will be through with us! God is not in the business of establishing retirement plans and paid vacations. We are to be constantly and vigilantly working to extend the Kingdom of God to the world. But how are we supposed to do this? What should we keep in mind as we move forward?
Here were Bishop King’s words. He reminded the people of the South Georgia Annual Conference of three important realities as we live out our faith in this world.
1. Have A Passion For Jesus
There is nothing more important to the work of the church than to be totally and unashamedly committed to Jesus. Any failure to love God and to love those whom God loves misses the message of Jesus. Others will know that we are sincere and committed if our passion for who Jesus is and what he has done defines who we are. Passion is so important.
But passion is not something that we can fake or conjure up. Passion comes from an encounter with the risen Jesus. Passion comes when we are transformed by the power of the Gospel and then conformed into the image of our Savior. Passion comes when we are expending all of our energies and talents and gifts in the single-minded pursuit of Jesus. We take hold of the one who has taken hold of us and we hold on because eternity is hanging in the balance. Passion is what sets people apart in every endeavor of life. It is also true in the church.
2. Get Your Rest
If we are to be passionate about Jesus, Bishop King said that it also become important to get our rest. We cannot burn the candle from both ends and hope to last until the end of our race. Rest is vitally important. Without rest we become susceptible to disease both physical and spiritual. We should never be ashamed to taking rest when we need it. We have to be honest enough with ourselves.
As I listened to Bishop King admonish the conference on this point, his concern was so genuine. If you are not in full-time ministry it may be hard to understand the emotional and spiritual toll. These can, at times, be more difficult to recover from than hard physical labor. But, I appreciated the encouragement from the bishop to seek time of rest, where the real and important burdens of the work did not rob us from our lives. It can be so easy for the leader of a company, business or, in this case, religious group to demand more effort, but Bishop King did not do that.
3. Play, Play, Play: Recreation Re-creates Us
That last reality that Bishop King pointed out is that we must not only be passionate about Jesus and get our rest, but we have play. We have to spend time filling the tank back up. The best way to do that is to do something that is satisfying and pleasurable. We have to find hobbies and activities that remind us of why we do the work that we do. We have to learn to play as hard as we work. That is easier said than done.
Nonetheless, when we take time for recreation, we are re-creating the essential aspects of our lives. We are not using up everything that we have inside, but when we get begin to sense that we are starting to dry up we have to stop and put something back in. Therefore, we have to enjoy the time that we are given to enjoy the things that we enjoy.
We must never forget that if we are sons and daughters of God we will never retire from serving our heavenly Father. I, for one, am thankful that I was able to hear Bishop King’s words of encouragement and admonishing. I will give them more thought and try to be more conscious my need to rest and play if I am to serve effectively in the years to come.