A Listening Ear and a Life of Service
By: Sherri Gragg
The late Rev. Billy Graham once proposed that a life of Christian service is, in fact, a life of holy worship. “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service,” Graham said. “The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.” It stands to reason, therefore, that service is a lifetime endeavor for the follower of Christ, one from which he or she never retires.
A Lifetime of Service
Rev. Shirley Connally’s resume reads like the “Who’s Who” of service. As a public-school teacher and counselor, Connally spent 36 years pouring her life into young men and women, all while simultaneously serving as Associate Pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, Houston. She taught collegiate level English for several years, served as an adjunct professor at Charles Harrison Mason Bible College, and operated her own private counseling practice.
During Connally’s years of service, there were many long days followed by even longer evenings. Night after night, long after everyone else had gone home, the janitor of Yates High School would come to Connally’s office to see if she was, at last, ready to leave for the day. As the janitor drove home to his dinner and family, Connally turned her car toward her next field of service- her church. “I used to tell people that I worked all day at school and all night at the church,” Connally said.
After so many years of service and a painful diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Connally has certainly earned her retirement. But she has found a life of service hard to quit. “As a pastor, I loved teaching and counseling, she said. “I love helping people.” That is why Connally has found a new calling post-retirement. She spends hours each week investing her gifts and talents in her community. Connally tutors English in local schools, and teaches discipleship Bible studies in her home church, Jones Memorial UMC, Houston.
Connally’s greatest passion remains Christian counseling. She has developed and taught a course on Christian counseling methods at Charles Harrison Mason Bible College, non-profit organizations, and local churches. She is passionate about her role in empowering laity to develop counseling ministries so that they might meet the needs of their fellow parishioners who are struggling.
The Next Step
Connally is ready to take the next step in her life of service. This April she will begin sharing her passion for counseling with a wider audience through www.BeADisciple.com. Her on-line course offering, “A Guidance and Counseling Approach to Helping Others” will present both clergy and laity with proven counseling methods based on the ministry of Jesus Christ.
The course will address a wide range of counseling challenges including:
- Pre-Marital Counseling
- Depression and Suicide
- Divorce Care
- Illness and Hospitalization
- Bereavement Care
- Families in Crisis
The two-week on-line course, offered through Southwestern College, is designed to be both easily accessible and highly interactive. Connally will post new assignments daily which students will then complete at their own pace. Students have access to a variety of on-line tools including a discussion board on which they can interact not only with Connally but with their fellow students as well. As always, www.BeADisciple.com courses are offered at no cost.
Connally is excited for the opportunity to equip a wider range of people to live a life of service through counseling ministry. “There are so many people who are hurting,” she said, “One pastor can’t do it all. All of us are ministers with gifts and talents. We need to use them.”
To learn more about Connally’s course on proven counseling methods, visit www.BeADisciple.com.