If you were asked to picture a lighthouse, what image comes to mind? Is it a storm ravaged night with the lighthouse beacon cutting through the darkness lighting the way to safety and sanctuary? Do you think of dense fog and the sight of a circling light and the sound of a foghorn calling to travelers lost in the mist? Or, do you picture a calm sunny outcropping of rocks with the beloved white building standing sentry over the coastal waters? All of these scenarios accurately represent the functions of lighthouses. Regardless of the circumstances, lighthouses represent hope; hope in times of acute distress, reassurance in calm waters. They remind us that help is nearby should the need arise.
We think of the ministry of Standing Stone as a lighthouse for men and women in ministry. When life gets tough we can offer a safe place to rest, away from the ravages of ministry burnout and pressure. When ministry is confusing we offer church leaders fresh perspective and a safe environment to process their thoughts and find their path again. Even when life, ministry, and marriage is in a smooth place, we understand the value of strengthening, encouraging, and equipping ministry leaders to continue along a path of health – with the knowledge that we are there for them should the need arise.
A few years ago a young pastor contacted us. He and his wife were suffering from acute burnout. They were considering leaving the ministry. The board members of their very large church suggested the pastor take a three month sabbatical. The pastor heard about our ministry and made a phone call. Within a month they found themselves at a Standing Stone retreat. To this man and his wife we were that light in a dark and stormy period. We were able to offer encouragement, counsel, and a safe place to vent, discuss, question, cry, laugh, heal, and gain fresh perspective. They didn’t leave the retreat “fixed”. They knew they had a long road of prayer and introspection ahead of them, but they did leave with fresh hope. Hope gives us strength.
Another couple came to us because they felt lost and confused in ministry. They were feeling overworked and underappreciated. In their words, they felt “invisible”. During their week-long retreat they were given the opportunity to share without time limits, without constraint. They were affirmed as ministers and as human beings. They were loved on, cared for, and fed……….very well. At the end of their retreat they made a stepping stone to take home with the initials I. C. U. They explained that the letters symbolized a week of being in an Intensive Care Unit where they were able to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They also shared that it meant I See YOU. They no longer felt invisible because they had reconnected to Father God and had made a lifelong connection with their mentor/host couple. They, too, left with hope in their hearts and a plan of action to take back home. They were committed to deepening relationships at their church and connecting more with others.
Many, many ministry couples have come to us for reasons similar to the two examples above. Burnout is very common. Marital issues are another reason couples might desire a retreat. However, some of our favorite retreats are with those couples in ministry that are in a good place, yet they realize that they could and should take time away to reconnect with God, each other, and with their passion and purpose to serve the Body of Christ. We like to think of this as preventative ministry. Why wait for burnout? Why wait until the seams of marriage begin to unravel? Being proactive in ministry and marriage is a smart and, quite truthfully, necessary part of maintaining a healthy church life and family life. Furthermore, when those storm clouds begin to appear on the horizon — and they will — having the assurance that you are not alone in ministry, that you have a safe and confidential person in your corner, is like that lighthouse on a sunny day. It stands there as a beacon of hope when our solid ground turns to water and we feel tossed about in the storm.
Do you see yourself or someone you know in the stories above? Would you like to go on a retreat or get more information to pass along to your pastor? Do you have a desire to help us care for these precious shepherds?
- Contact us about going on a retreat or sponsoring your pastor.
- Join our Rapid Response Prayer Team and pray with us when needs arise.
- Support us financially with a tax-deductible gift.
- Offer your home or vacation home as a retreat location.
There are many ways that you can contribute to the ministry of Standing Stone. Send us an email or give us a call. All of our contact information is on our website.
Thank you for your support as we offer a Beacon of Hope in times of need.