“I wanted to better pastor people who struggle with addictions and to break the power of sin in their lives. But I also wanted to face my own sin and struggles. To learn to treat others, especially my own family, with more patience and love. I was also finding that the pace of life in consistory meant that I was focusing a lot on others’ spiritual state – but not enough on my own spiritual life.
I do feel more equipped now to get to the root of sin [when I help others]. But it is a long process, a difficult process, and it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. I can now with confidence recommend Life Renewal to my congregants who are struggling with sin, depression, addiction, etc.
Here’s the truth: taking the program while in the consistory was difficult. But the blessing was a lot greater! Life Renewal is difficult for an office-bearer because it’s a lot of work. So add at least 2 nights to the 2-3 nights we’re busy with consistory work, and there’s not a lot of time for anything else. And it’s difficult, because it’s a lot of soul searching. This was especially hard for me at first, because I found myself in a group with a number of my own congregants. How can I open up to them about my sin? What will they think of me? But actually it was an amazing blessing. I was able to see God at work in their lives during the year, and it was all the more sweeter because I knew them so well!
And I soon realized (this is one of the first lessons learnt in Life Renewal) the idea that people – even congregants – will think less of me because I’m a sinner, is a lie, and just my pride. I’m not on any pedestal as an office-bearer and I don’t need to pretend I am. I’m a sinner in need of grace and help just as much as they are. So I’d heartily recommend Life Renewal to office-bearers: because office-bearers most of all people need the help that God works through Life Renewal. We’re called to counsel others, and we’re called to be an example to the flock in our charge. But at the same time we struggle with sin in our own lives!
We often feel so inadequate and untrained. And worst of all, the busyness of life in consistory might mean that (like me) you at times neglect your own relationship with the Lord, your spiritual growth and personal holiness because you’re so busy focussing on others! If any of that sounds like you, you should consider giving Life Renewal a shot. By God’s grace it has helped me with all this.
Like me, it will force you to slow down and take a long hard look at your life. It provided me the questions and tools and time to focus on my personal holiness and life of service to God instead of just others. It taught me the sinful defects of character like selfishness or impatience that were behind many of my sinful treatment of others. It taught me to be more open about my own sin. Also to other brothers in the church who can help, encourage, reprimand, and pray for me! And the process of going very deep into your own sin, denial and blindspots and all, will remind you how powerless you are in the face of your sin and how much you need Jesus Christ! And it will equip you more to share that message with others. – Rev. Ben Schoof, Maranatha Canadian Reformed Church, BC