Hundreds of disqualified pastors continue to tell the story of how they lost their first love. Many trace this loss back to their lack of time in the Bible, prayer, and meditation on the Word.
We need to remember that the life of a pastor is one of following, leading, and feeding. As pastors follow their Savior, they invite others along the way and offer God’s word as sustenance to those following.
Although it may seem elementary, the foundational discipline of daily time with God is exactly what will fuel a long-term ministry. I’m writing this to all pastors—especially to any who have “moved on” to more important tasks. We must be reminded often that there is no more important ministry than ministering to our own soul.
Here are three strategies for spending time with God that will help make your time with God more effective and your ministry good for the long haul.
1. Set a Daily Time with God
If your life is anything like mine, my day runs away from me faster than I can catch it. The only things that I seem to get done are those that scream and pull my pant leg (my son) or those that I have set a time for. We can assume that we will find time to be quiet and alone with God but many days we may never get around to it.
By setting a daily time to pray and be in God’s Word, you are making space in your day instead of chasing it.
2. Use a Bible Reading Plan and Mark your Progress
How do you read the Bible? The “grip it and rip it” style of Bible reading is a popular approach, but honestly, I never find myself heading straight for Habakkuk this way. One way to ensure that you read all of God’s word is by using a Bible Reading plan. Many reading plans have two Old Testament and two New Testament readings every day. Not only will you be reading all types of Biblical literature, but when you use something like “Read the Bible in a Year” you will actually read the entire Bible. This may sound obvious, but I think we would be amazed how many pastors have actually never read through the whole Bible.
It is easy to get discouraged when trying to read through the whole Bible. It a challenging discipline that’s made even more difficult because it’s spiritual warfare. The enemy doesn’t want you to spend time in God’s word and he will discourage and distract you in any way he can. By marking your progress you will set yourself up to have visible momentum so if you go through a dry season, you can always go back and continue where you left off.
3. Spend Time Meditating on God’s Word
A good steak is a thing of beauty. In a fine steak house, the chef simply accents their beef with a light seasoning. It’s a quick shake and straight to the grill. With such high quality beef they don’t really need much time. Many, though, are more like a Western Sizzlin’. The beef is lower quality and it takes much more time to soak in flavor from something else. So, they marinate the steak to help it have more flavor. The longer it soaks, the better it tastes.
In the Christian life, the goal of Scripture intake should be a good balance of quantity and quality. Yes, of course, reading vast amounts of Scripture is useful; but, soaking in the truths of God’s Word will be much more effective. The more we marinate in the love of Christ, the more we will be the aroma of Christ to a lost and dying world.
Many times in ministry we might have a tendency to move past the foundational disciplines of the Christian life. But for a long lasting and effective ministry, we must never get past daily times with God. If the King of kings, Jesus, had intentional times alone with the Father, I think we’d better, too.