Whew! Christmas and Easter are now behind us. We can all take a deep breath and know that we have a little downtime to enjoy. Now, I know some of you are laughing - thinking to yourself: “What is downtime?” I know, because I myself am often bemused by this concept as something foreign I’ve never experienced before.
Far too often in the busy times, we are so focused on the “doing,” that everything else gets put on the back burner. Those things riding along in the backseat may be projects, training, and other administrative duties that have fallen to the wayside ... like a half finished youth room video install waiting to be completed. Unfortunately, one of the most important things that may be sacrificed on the altar of productivity, is our relationship with God. The many hours spent preparing for the weekend services and other church events can add up. Mix in family and personal time (maybe a little bit of sleep) - and suddenly you’ve lost all focus on your relationship with God. It is at this point that your ministry effectiveness begins to wane.
In Genesis 39:3 it states, “Potifer… realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.”
If we want to be truly effective in our ministry we have to first maintain an ongoing relationship with God.
Coming out of Christmas, I was heavily convicted of losing my ministry “effectiveness.” I was tired and worn out from months of endless demands, and instead of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I was looking at Easter barreling towards me. I became so focused on getting ahead of the next round of tasks that I forgot what my job is all about.
On the outside I was pleasant, but I wasn’t going the extra mile for my volunteers and staff --- actually sitting down with them to see how life was going. Our relationships were superficial, and they were that way because I was no longer “getting real” with my Savior.
John 14:4 says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. ‘Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.’”
How can we expect to be effective without making spiritual growth a priority?
From a young age, I have been taught that personal time with the Lord is imperative for personal growth, but this message has become increasingly important as I have grown into a leader. Why is it that there always seem to be enough time to keep tabs on the latest gear, yet somehow we struggle to find time to sit down and study the Bible.
In addition to daily personal devotion time, it is helpful to stay spiritually connected with those you work closely with. A great way to make sure you’re all staying in the scriptures is to have one hour per week set aside for reading, studying, and praying together. My team meets first thing Monday morning to get the week started off right. We use the SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) study model to guide our time together.
To implement study time with your team, start by reading a specific section of scripture, taking notes and writing down any questions you may have. Gather as a group to discuss what you’ve read, and how you can apply it to everyday life. Finish up with a time of prayer. Spending time like this in the Word, digging deeper into God’s message, can bring fresh life and a renewed feeling of effectiveness to your ministry.
How are you staying engaged in the Word on a daily basis?