Each year, many of us set new goals to spend time in contemplative prayer, and seek to move both our lives, and missions forward. As I have established FAITH Goals for the New Year, there are 5 items that must be in every spiritual leader’s schedule to remain healthy and whole!
Not one of these items will ever gain recognition or accolades. They are the private decisions that breed public success. Examine your weekly schedule according to these criteria.
- Personal Meals with Family: Nothing prioritizes family like time at the table eating. Now I must confess, the older the children have become, the more challenging it has become. However, your family is worth it.
- Intimate time with Spouse: This doesn’t happen naturally or by accident. It doesn’t happen in front of a TV binge watching on Netflix. We have been formed with the capacity to be Emotionally, Spiritually, and Physically intimate. In marriage, all three are provided. For those who are SINGLE, I would encourage you to focus on the Emotional and Spiritual intimacy. While physically intimacy at a sexual level isn’t possible, there are healthy options (i.e., manicure, massage, etc…).
- Create Space to Listen to the Lord: Many have written in depth about prayer, bible study, and other spiritual disciplines. Suffice to say here, there is no substitute to time. However, let me caution you according to my own mistakes. Time must not only be spent listening to the voice of God’s Spirit about your career or ministry, take time to listen to what God is say to your spirit concerning your own soul, relationships, and family. This time must be created!
- Intentionally & Personally Investment: Every spiritual leader, no matter the level or size of our ministry must intentionally and personally invest. Our calling demands that we invest in 1-Leaders that God has already entrusted to us; 2-Followers that God has called us to lead; and 3-Unbelievers who we are called to reach. We are still to do the work of an evangelist.
- Investment in Self: As my friend John Palmer says, “Self-Care is not Selfish!” May this be a year that you value your own life, as much as God does. He redeems you Body-Mind-Spirit. May you invest in your body through movement/exercise, in your mind through emotional health and intellectual engagement, and in your spirit through God’s TRUTH.
Each week, as you prioritize your schedule, be sure to schedule your priorities.
Like most years, 2017 has started with our church praying and seeking the face of God. For me this is a holy season, as it sets the direction and pace for the rest of the year. Without prayer, our best plans have their origin in the human heart. What I need more than anything is a vision that come from God, that is empowered of God, and is desired of God. I don’t want God to acquiesce to my plans, I want to submit to His.
Below are some concepts I picked up from Tim Elmore in the early years of ministry as he invested in my life. He compared the birth of God’s vision for our lives, with the birth of a child, and the process God uses. Vision is not an event, but is a process and journey we must patiently walk.
- INTIMACY: This is the Place of BEGINNINGS…People who catch a vision do so because they have spent time in quietness, solitude and reflection. They have made space in their time, as well as in their souls to hear from the Spirit of God. Just as a husband and wife will never give birth to a baby unles they come together intimately, a person will never give birth to a vision without experiencing intimacy with God. This type of intimacy provides the opportunity for God to speak into your life and future.
- CONCEPTION: This is the Place where God’s Seed takes ROOT…When God’s seed is deposited into your life, it must have time to grow. All the detail are not clear at this junction, and you may have many questions; however, just like a baby will resemble both mom and dad, God’s vision will resemble both you and Him. This is the most critical time of God’s vision in your life, as too often fear can cause us to abort the vision. Be okay with not knowing everything, and trust God with the future. This is the time to pray into the vision.
- GESTATION: This is the time of GROWTH… Gestation often takes the longest. It is here when we identify with the burden God has place upon us. Be sure to not confuse burden for a need, with frustration with people. If God has burdened you, it is because He is raising you to be a champion for the need and/or vision. God’s vision always meets a need. SPECIAL NOTE: when a baby is growing inside the mother, it changes the mother dramatically. The same is true of the vision growing inside of you… it is changing and taking form.
- LABOR: This is the most PAINFUL time…While labor may not be the longest, it is often the most difficult. Like a mother, you will experience labor pains. They may appear in the form of obstacle, doubts in your own mind, or criticism from others. This is a time to “clear the room” and only allow those who will help you give birth to be closest to you. You will be tempted to quit, as the struggle is real, but listen to the voice of God’s Spirit cheering you on, saying, “Don’t Quit! You’re almost there! It will all be worth it soon!” The pain produces the offspring (God’s vision).
- BIRTH: This is a time of CELEBRATION…Like a new mother, this is the time to celebrate what God has brought forth, and the care and nurture the vision. Most aspects of the vision will be very dependent upon you in this early stage, or at least dependent upon others working with you. However, like a newly born babe, this is just the beginning. It is the launching point for time to come. Like many mothers, God may continue to deposit additional visions into your soul, so stay Humble and stay Hungry!
As you consider this year, perhaps the above process can help you identify your progress in God’s vision for your life. God has formed you with a purpose, and has a vision for your calling. Every person who is born-again in their spirit has been born into a new calling upon their lives.
If you haven’t already, spend extended-intimate time with the Lord, that His vision might be released into your life.
Portrait of a leader by Tim Elmore (2001 Equip Pub.; Atlanta, GA; p. 16-17)