INDIANAPOLIS – “Why do you do what you do?” was the question the Rev. Jim Harnish put to more than 400 Indiana United Methodist pastors who gathered for the annual Our Life Together retreat on Feb. 28.

Using the Apostles Paul’s word to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians, chapters 5-6), Harnish, senior pastor of Hyde Park UMC in Tampa, Fla., said, “What kind of job description is this? Why would anyone take on this task?”

He said what we do is a calling. This is who we are. We are ambassadors, agents of reconciliation.

The written word becomes the living word. That’s why it matters.

He gently reminded clergy, “If you are an attorney or physician, you may not need to be particularly spiritual in your job, but as preachers, this is who we are. We need to have a fire in our bones – burning fire in the depth of our being. This is the kind of thing you die for. We have to die to bring forth much fruit. It’s a job to die for.”

He went on to say it’s not us, but God working through us. He said in verse 13, Paul says: “God is making His appeal through us. This is work that God does.”

Harnish said, Paul reminds us that we don’t do it alone but we do it together. Paul says we are ambassadors for Christ. We do it together. Our work can’t be done alone. Furthermore, it’s not good to be alone. During their years in ministry, many preachers have crashed and burned. Too many times friends of mine have crashed and burned. They were lonely people. We need to allow people to strengthen and nurture us.

“The connection is not about institutional maintenance but about relationships, being brothers and sisters together. We don’t do it alone. We do it in fellowship with each other,” he said.

Harnish said at the Last Supper, Jesus called the relationship he had with his disciples friendship.

Jesus said I no longer call you servants, I call you friends.

Harnish concluded: “We do it (ministry) not only with afflictions, but also by purity, knowledge, holiness and love, truthful speech by the power of God.”


Jim Harnish drives a point home during one of three presentations.

Lockerbie Central UMC musicians provided music for Our Life Together.