I am not sure about you but I often feel, especially when I am going through “stuff”, alone. It can feel like being an island in a turbulent sea. I have felt this often enough that I know the issues are in my head, but once the thoughts have taken hold, they seem to have a life of their own. This can be personal things that disturb my peace, things happening with the church, or simply life. Being a minister, in many ways, can be one of the loneliest and most isolating professions on earth.
The deeper truth, both in the spiritual and relative sense, is that we are never alone. In the spiritual sense, the presence of God within is always available. Taking time to stop and breathe is one of the simplest and most powerful steps we can take. In the breath we remember or connect with what is already true. Times of meditation and prayer, when there is time to step away, allows us to make a deeper connection. When we connect and remember the deeper reality and truth, the feelings of loneliness and isolation seem to lift. In the midst of all the struggles, there is a peacefulness and calm that sooths the soul.
The problem we often run into, especially during times of anxiety, stress, or change is we cannot hear the still small voice through the din of the voices in our head. It is at times like this that we need to remember we are never alone, ever. We certainly can call on Silent Unity or possibly a trusted mentor or classmate from our seminary days. All these are powerful tools to use to assist us. For example, when I was in the hospital diagnosed with end stage kidney disease, I lost sight of the truth. I was a victim of my condition. On the second day in the hospital my wife Robin called Rev. Pat and handed me the phone. If you know Rev. Pat, he listened with an open heart filled with compassion. After what seemed like hours, though I am told it was a couple of minutes, he asked if I was done and willing to hear the truth. He knew what I needed to hear and I was able to experience a deeper connection to Spirit.
The Great Lakes Regional Board has made it our sacred intention, to the best of our ability, to make sure that no minister, ministry or congregation ever is left on their own, “up the river without a paddle”. Through the efforts of our Regional Representative, Greg Coles, assistance during times of trouble is always available. The Board and staff are continuing to seek out ways in which the centers and ministers in the region can network and call upon each. I have heard often from ministers that it is difficult to take a Sunday off because they do not have qualified speakers in the church to fill in.
The Board and staff continue to provide networking, regional, and sub-regional events and trainings to assist churches of all sizes. Our youth and family coordinators offer in person trainings, online webinars, sub-regional events, and prayer support for ministry staff and youth. Our Regional Representative, Greg, is facilitating a multi-church Board training making the training more cost effective for all the participants. Ministers in the field, with approval from Greg and UWM, are assisting local churches through times of transition. Finally, The Board authorized the creation of a scholarship program for Great Lakes students and ministries. The Board continues to ask the question “how best can we serve our Region’s ministries and ministers?”
Being a minister can be and often is an isolating and lonely profession. When we learn to reach out to each other asking for what we need we can discover that there are far more boats on the sea than we first could see. We, the Board, staff and members of the Great Lakes Unity are here to remind everyone we are never alone.