Can You Relate to These 3 Critical Observations?

There is one question that I get more than any other from family, friends, people from the church where I, Eric, pastored, or from other acquaintances who know my story of starting Altar Fly Fishing, “So, how is the fishing going?” 

At first, if I were being honest, I was a little put off by the question because I believe in the work, transformation, and ministry Altar brings to its participants. We do not take people fishing, we invite them into a life-shaping adventure where fishing is our activity. But then, I get over myself and realize they are curious and most times care about me and what the Altar team is doing. My reply because I have witnessed the impact with these past years with men, women, pastors, leaders, and with Navy SEALs is, “The fishing is good, but the ministry is great!”

Altar has hosted 11 retreats so far this year with two more to go in September and November (and a record 17 retreats on the horizon for 2024!). As a transformational life and leadership coach serving Altar and a number of other leaders around the country, I am trained to observe, to zoom out, and to search for deeper realities. As I reflect on this year’s retreats I have observed many things in the lives of retreat participants. As I share my observations, use this opportunity to reflect and compare the realities of your own life, affirming what is good and healthy and identifying what is neglected or needs to change.


  1. Our souls are tired, neglected, and need attention. Altar begins every retreat by bringing clarity to what the soul is, what are the streams that flow into and form the soul, and then has each person map the realities of their soul to reveal how they are really doing. Within the first 24 hours of the retreat, people have waded deeply into life and find they are often losing their footing or drowning in several key areas. There is a need and desire to be healthy, but many have lost sight or confidence that life can change or work differently.
    • How is your soul doing…really?
  1. Our rhythms of life are robbing us from the life we desire. RHYTHM has been the focus of this year’s retreats and it has been fascinating to consider how our rhythms shape and form our lives and impact those around us. Equally fascinating is to consider what God has to say about rhythms and how people wrestle to make adjustments to their rhythms to live a more healthy, fulfilling, and/or abundant life. The Altar team has observed that people are carrying heavy loads, running hard, and do not know how to stop, they are rest-less (no matter the season of life, profession, or role in life they play). The common refrain is: I know I need to change my rhythms. I need to learn to stop and reset, I don’t know how I can realistically change my rhythms. I want to change, but need help.
    • Are your rhythms bringing you life or wearing you down?
  1. There is a great need for more authentic, mutually vulnerable, and deeper friendships. Did you know that 84% of pastors desire but do not have ONE person they feel can journey alongside them and safely listen to how they are really doing?  But, this is not limited to pastors. As we learned the stories of other leaders and Navy SEALs with us this year, this same story was just as common. While we are inundated with “relationships”, most people experience isolation and loneliness at increasingly deeper levels. We are not created to do life (deep life) alone. We need people who know, love, listen, and serve us while we mutually do the same for them. Do not be surprised if the theme of building spiritual friendships (or as Victoria White calls Holy Friendships in her book by the same title) appears in Altar retreats going forward. It is a big deal and critical to life.
    • Do you have 3-5 people who fit the deep, spiritual friendship category in your life?


What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 16:26)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (or full). (John 15:11)

As you pause to read the waters of your life, consider Altar’s observations from this past year, and sit with these Bible verses. 

  • What do you notice about your life and soul? 
  • What do you notice about  your rhythms and how they are impacting your life? 
  • How is the joy level (or lack of) in your day-to-day life?

The fishing is good, but Altar’s ministry, with amazing people seeking to grow, is great.

Eric Camfield | September 2023