When I told people I was heading to Rev It Up! in Chicago in October 2015, I was commonly asked, “What exactly is this conference you are going to about?” My most common response was, “How to be able to retire someday,” but truly this event offered by the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits was about so much more.
As a young clergy person with decades before I will be able to retire, the idea of investing for the future was far from the forefront of my mind. But upon the recommendation of several other young clergy who attended this conference I decided to attend, if for no other reason than to prepare myself for a lifetime in ministry. Once at the event GBOPHB explained that they created this event for clergy and their spouses under the age of forty, because they were finding that the majority of their conferences were attended by those clergy nearing retirement instead of starting out their carriers in healthy and holistic ways.
The topics presented were broken down into three categories - personal, financial, and leadership skills, all of which presented vital information for a life in ministry. The first day opened with Rev. Mike Slaughter talking about having momentum to stay in ministry for life. Slaughter pointed out that we are called to give our very lives for the greatest story and mission every told, which meant that we had to be prepared physically, spiritually, emotionally, rationally, and mentally. The day continued with teaching from certified financial planners and lawyers around personal finances and clergy taxes. Each evening those present were given the opportunity to sign up for personal consultation opportunities in the areas Rev. Slaughter presented in opening worship.
The second day offered ten classes to choose from, ranging in topics from strength-based leadership, to church finances, and personal health. These classes gave us opportunities to learn from the insights of the presenters, but the insights of fellow clergy and clergy spouses as well, around issues that many of us struggle with, including the pace of ministry and failing to observe the Sabbath with regularity. By having these open and honest conversations about personal wholeness, we were able to support each other in our joys and struggles.
The closing day was comprised of three core classes with topics such as creating a will, managing cash and dissolving debt, and the benefits provided for clergy persons in the United Methodist Church. I commented to the other young clergy attending Rev it Up! from the Susquehanna Conference, that I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information, but at the same time I was walking away with action steps and a plan to work toward truly living into a lifetime in ministry.
Rare is the opportunity when you can sit down with folks from general boards and agencies who you know deeply care about you and your ministry. Even rarer is the opportunity to have consultation and discussion sessions led by them with the purpose being to help you sustain your ministry in a vital way. Now, even days after the event has concluded, I find myself returning to their words of wisdom, knowing that I truly am “rev-ed” up for ministry for such a time as this.