Many preachers live under a cloud of discouragement because they don’t see the results that they envisioned for their ministries. John Stott, a British theologian, argues that sometimes the problem is not so much discouragement as it is staleness. There is no preacher who starts off his or her race with the intention of failing.
Many throw in the towel because they have ignored the basic disciplines that would have determined their longevity in proclaiming God’s gospel. Effective preachers are healthy preachers.
Here are three disciplines that will ensure spiritual freshness in your life as a preacher.
1. The Discipline of Rest.
Schedule time off every week. Don’t feel guilty, but remember that Jesus was not always available. Decide to never short change time with your family or friends.
Enjoy having an evening meal with your family.
Take your spouse on dates regularly.
Hang out with your friends.
Some people don’t know how to stop thinking about ministry, so I would also suggest you find a hobby that can get you to disengage totally from work and ministry. Personally, I enjoy nature.
Have at least one friendship that allows you to be you. Friendships are a gift from God. Pursue one!
2. The Discipline of Stewardship.
Paul exhorts the Ephesian church to be imitators of God by saying, “consider carefully how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of the time because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16-17). The enemy’s number one tactic is distraction.
If you are not wise with your time, you will not get enough time to diligently study and ponder on what God wants you to say to your people. Here are a few suggestions on how you can live wisely:
- Make a list. Have you ever wrote out a list of things that you wanted to accomplish the next day. Try it. Bring it before the Lord and invite him to help you with it.
- Have a quiet day each month for specific things that need extra prayer; problems to think through, an article to write, the planning of the next three to six months, etc.
3. The Discipline of Devotions.
- Scripture reading. It’s a sad fact today that many Christian leaders don’t know the whole bible. If you struggle to stay on task, find apps that read the bible to you. Some might not agree, but I believe it’s okay to use sermon prep as devotional time. We should, in fact, prepare messages in such a way that they change our lives before we expect them to change others.
- Prayer: Claim the promises of Psalm 145:18 over your life. Genuinely ask God to speak to you today through His word
- Meditate: Rick Warren, a pastor at Saddleback church, says that if you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. Worrying is extended thoughts over something you don’t have control over, yet meditating is extended thoughts on the promises of God’s word.
- Memorize Scripture: Both meditation and memorization store God’s word in man’s heart. It is this word that God uses mainly to speak to us, especially in the matters of staying holy (Psalm 119:11).
To get a further grasp of some of the things I shared, I strongly recommend four books that have helped me tremendously. These are: Problems of Christian Leadership by John Stott, Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes, Crazy Busy by Kevin De Young and Dangerous Calling by David Paul Tripp.
What other disciplines have you found to be important that keep you fresh? Comment below.