Running the Good Race

Rachel Chimits

Pastors around the world need encouragement, refreshment and prayer from their fellow believers.

Recently, Gary Wilkerson, Kelly Wilkerson, Nicky Cruz and Carter Conlon were invited along with other pastors and leaders to speak at a pastors’ conference in Kenya. 

The vice president of Kenya’s wife, Rachel Ruto, is passionate about encouraging the church in her country. She organized and laid the way for everyone who came to speak as well as for many of the attendees to be aware of the event and able to attend.

The purpose of this conference was to encourage Kenya’s spiritual leaders, whether they were from a Nairobi megachurch or a tiny village’s house church. 

Why Conferences Are Important

The beauty of this event was that it actively combats the chronic temptation for pastors to put their own enrichment and rest on the backburner.

“If you were a physician, accountant or an attorney, you wouldn’t have a choice,” points out Michael Duduit, founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies. “Your professional organizations would require you to earn a certain number of continuing education units on a regular basis as evidence that you are keeping up-to-date in your field. Why do we think pastoral ministry deserves less attention?”

While the World Challenge, Nicky Cruz Outreach and Times Square Church pastors’ conference teams were most recently in Kenya, their dedication to helping leaders takes them all over the world.

Church leaders’ need to nourish and care for their own spiritual lives isn’t limited to any part of the globe, whether it’s Kenya, CubaRomania or the United States

Duduit says, “Just the change of pace and fresh setting can allow you to lay aside the leadership pressures for a few days or hours, and will let you regain some of that energy you need to face the challenges of ministry.”

This often desperately needed break to rest physically and recalibrate spiritually can have enormous impact on a spiritual leader’s work. 

A Heart for Those Who Lead

As a fourth generation pastor whose children also are beginning to work in ministry, Gary Wilkerson has a particular passion for uplifting and empowering those who have received this calling. 

“’Can I really be an agent of transformation? Can I really work in one of the most difficult regions or areas of the world?’” he mentions some of the questions that can easily start to haunt ministry leaders who are laboring for the church.

“When I travel around the world and get to see the work that so many of you are involved in…” Gary explains, “I just want to encourage you to stand strong in the midst of those battles you’re facing because God sees you. He sees the work you’re doing!”

Pastors conferences are an opportunity to get a tangible sense of being seen and being in community with like-minded servant-leaders.

This is an expression of what the writer of Hebrews described, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV).

It’s vital for leaders to know they have a great cloud of fellow runners and witnesses cheering them on.