Posted by: pastortomvabeach | February 3, 2010

Thought for the Week February 7, 2010

I missed all of you this week. I can’t remember if we have ever had to cancel all of our Sunday services since I have been pastor. There were a couple of times due to hurricane or flooding that we held only one service and even a time when we had our service without electrical power (after Hurricane Isabel) but we’ve always been able to have service somehow, somewhere. I really did not want to miss out this week but after driving to the church on Saturday and evaluating local roads most of the day, I think we made the best decision. Salem Road was still covered in ice on Monday and we did not want to put anyone in danger of a weather related car accident. I trust that all of you did something to meet with the Lord and I can’t wait to see you all this week.

Every month the General Council of the Assemblies of God sends a letter to all credentialed ministers with notes of spiritual guidance and encouragement from our General Superintendent and other leaders. This month Rev. Douglas Clay, our General Treasurer, wrote about how we pastors must be careful to guard our spiritual health. The counsel he gives is excellent and does not only apply to pastors, so I thought I’d share some of it with you.

Brother Clay says, “spiritually healthy and personally secure pastors do not emerge automatically …because you are in ministry…by virtue of your job description.” Friends, this applies to every Christian. We don’t grow automatically because we go to church or serve in ministry. “Your health and growth require as much focus and attention as your preaching preparation, relationship networking, counseling schedule, church board meetings, community outreach, and the endless daily details every church leader encounters.” Brother Clay is speaking about the busyness of pastoral ministry, but I think everyone can relate due to the myriad activities of daily life and recognize that we’re all extremely stretched.

He continues, “without intentional steps toward your own growth, you will inevitably discover that all the demands of ministry (or life)…will threaten your spiritual, emotional, and relational health. In my own life…I have been reminded constantly that if I don’t take time for spiritual self-care then I will soon exhibit signs of spiritual malnutrition. I never want to lose sight of my own spiritual need. I always want to be growing in Christ even as I am encouraging others in their growth.” These are powerful thoughts. Spiritual self-care is an interesting and vital concept.

The next statement should be repeated over and over by every Christian until we internalize it so much that it becomes an unconscious part of our lives. Brother Clay says this, “I recognize that my spiritual growth is my responsibility. I can’t expect anyone else to order my private world. That holds true for you.” Again, he is talking to pastors and relating how much others expect of them in conduct, example, and attitude. But, dear friend, every one of us must recognize that no one else makes us grow spiritually but ourselves. This is good stuff for everyone.

The best part is that Brother Clay gives some specific ways to improve our spiritual footing: “So, where do you begin when the Holy Spirit nudges you and begins to shed light on an area of spiritual fatigue? What steps do you take when your personal revival needs to come into focus? We’re all wired differently, and our approach to serving God is going to be colored by the creative personality He has given us. There are several questions we can ask ourselves, and if we are honest with our answers and willing to respond, we can be healthier as a result.”

What one thing can I do to enjoy God more? God wants to be enjoyed. You know, don’t you, that you were created for His pleasure. Revelation 4:11 (KJV), ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’

What spiritual discipline can I improve on this year? Spiritual disciplines were never intended to be endured, but rather enjoyed. The process of becoming like Jesus does not have to be boring. Ephesians 4:15 (The Message), ’God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.’

What spiritual gift can I use more frequently this year? One reason why people get spiritually fatigued is that they are not practicing 1 Peter 4:10: ’Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.’

What can I do to better fulfill God’s purpose for my life? Every day of your life has been scheduled out by the Lord. Psalm 139:16 (LB), ’You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!’ So the question becomes, ‘Are you accomplishing those ‘”good works which God prepared in advance for you to do?”’ (Ephesians 2:10).”

I wonder what would happen if I took time each week to ask and try to answer one of these questions and then repeated the process after I had made it through all of them. Do you think it would help me to be a better pastor or better Christian? What about you? Just a thought.

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