Florida has an abundant number of lakes that are a significant part of our overall ecosystem. The system of lakes supports a wide variety of life, and most lakes are enjoyed recreationally.
There are two types of lakes – living lakes and stagnant lakes. Living lakes have a source of fresh water coming into them and have a way for water to leave the lake. This exchange of water supports the life of a beautiful lake, including the butterflies, animals, and fish that live there, and the tourists and locals that visit for a time of renewal.
In contrast, a stagnant lake has no fresh water coming in our out. There is no inlet or outlet. That lake usually turns to a brown color, is often smelly, and supports undesirable life forms, such as mosquitos. No one wants to visit that lake!
I have had moments in my ministry where I have felt stagnant. I felt like I had nothing of value to offer my choir members spiritually, or I was just saying the same things over and over. I came to realize that when nothing of value was coming out, it was because nothing of value was going in. Those were the times when my devotional life waned, or I was not reading something new. I learned that I got into a rut of doing the same music over and over when I didn’t take the time to look at new music or new ministry ideas.
The state of Florida has several water management districts whose job it is to manage minimum flow and levels to keep lakes and streams healthy and productive. We, on the other hand, have to manage our flow levels for ourselves. Stagnation can creep up on us if we do not make the effort to keep the living word of God flowing into us. Equally important is that we also have an outlet, a place where the word of God can flow from us. This is vital to a healthy spiritual life, as well as a thriving ministry.
It is important to be diligent about our daily spiritual intake. But also important are those special times when we get a serious recharge….like during a summer rain that gets the water moving faster, pulling some of the sludge in the bottom of the river or lake away, allowing room for healthy growth.
For me, our Summer Church Music Workshop gives me that energizing inflow of the word of God, new music, new ideas from outstanding clinicians, and conversations with new friends who have new ideas and new experiences to relay.
At the same time, it is an opportunity for outflow. Participating in worship services, teaching a class, filling a leadership role, and conversations with colleagues all give me the chance to express my faith in and love for God, and to share my own ideas and experiences.
If you have experienced stagnation at times over the past year, our Workshop will provide that inlet of fresh living water you need to become a vibrant and healthy musician, singer, worshiper or minister.
The Warren Willis United Methodist (UM) Camp & Conference Center (formerly known as The Life Enrichment Center) where we gather sits on Lake Griffin in Fruitland Park, Florida. It is a healthy, vibrant lake that provides a wonderful setting for our events, and an important reminder of how we can keep our spiritual life and ministry from becoming stagnant.
I hope I will see you at Workshop on June 7-12. I just know that you’ll find all kinds of butterflies there!