‘Keep your priorities straight,” Dance urges pastors

Originally published in Western Recorder – www.westernrecorder.org

Lexington—More than 300 pastors and their wives gathered Jan. 27-30 for a time of refreshment and fellowship at Shepherding 2017 in Lexington.

The conference, which has been a staple in Kentucky Baptist life for more than 15 years, is a weekend where pastors and their wives can, “be refreshed and encouraged, a place where they can network with each other,” said Steve Rice, KBC church consulting and revitalization team leader.

Mark Dance, director of LifeWay pastors, challenged attendees to “keep the main thing, the main thing.” However, he pointed out that often when people say that, they really don’t know what the main thing is.

Looking to Christ in Mark 12:28-31 for answer to the question, “What is the ‘main thing?’” Dance said, “The main thing is not a thing at all. It’s Jesus.” He then listed five other priorities that must follow the “main thing” in order to be a successful, healthy pastor or pastor’s wife. After Jesus comes one’s spouse, family, friends (including those within one’s church family), the lost, and oneself, Dance said.

He emphasized the importance of keeping these priorities straight, saying, “I can’t turn the world upside down if my life is upside down.” Speaking to the importance of any conference such as Shepherding, he said, “Today you’re putting the oxygen mask on.”

In addition, Hershael York of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort spoke on “The Paradox of Ministry,” and Todd Gray, KBC evangelism and church planting team leader, spoke on “Your Greatest Enemy.”

Various breakout sessions were also offered throughout the weekend, and music was led by Bo Warren, worship pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church of Lexington.

On Thursday evening, Aaron Wilber, Christian humorist/comedian who travels with the Gather Homecoming Tour, entertained attendees. His wit and humor had the crowd in stitches throughout the evening, but he brought them around to see God’s sovereign hand in any situation by presenting a song he co-composed, “Four Days Late.”

Friday evening was intentionally left open for couples to enjoy a date night.

Jay Hatfield, pastor of Willisburg Baptist Church and director of missions at Central Association, and his wife, Linda, use the conference as a “Christmas gift to each other.”

“It’s a good time to get away where we can worship together and we can get fed, instead of having to be the ones doing the feeding,” Jay Hatfield said. “It’s kind of like a family reunion.”

Linda Hatfield added, “We love being with other pastors and their wives so you can learn that you’re not out there by yourself.”

“I think the conference accomplishes its purpose,” Rice shared. He said that feedback he gets from an anonymous survey as well as from conversations with individuals and cards each year all seem to echo the same theme: “Shepherding really made a difference in my life. You’ll never believe the timing.”

The annual event is sponsored by Baptist Health and the Kentucky Baptist Convention. (WR)