Mindful Ministers: Part Two of Four

TJ's 4x3=12

3 Thing YOU must know on growing yourself spiritually

I recently was on an airplane heading back from a trip to Haiti. As I sat down and pulled out my iPad to begin writing this post, the safety instructions for the airplane came on. You know them.
“In case of an emergency, an oxygen mask will fall from above you. Please grab it, pull the hose to begin airflow and place the strap over your head. Even though the bag may not inflate, there is oxygen flowing…. Please place your mask on yourself before helping anyone else.”
Think about that. Before you can give anyone else oxygen to live, you must have it first.
          1.You must have air.
It’s is crucial that you have air to live. When you think of the essentials of life, the oxygen that you breathe into your body is what sustains your livelihood. Without it, well, let’s just say, you will be with the Lord. Do you long for the Lord like you long for oxygen? Do you long for him to fill your lungs with his breath of life?
Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.”
Pastor, you too, need to be connected to Christ. I know you spend hours in sermon prep, small group administration, event planning, meetings, counseling, going to activities of your students, being a husband/wife, dad, friend and many other things. I truly do believe you are doing all these things with the intent of honoring the Lord and serving because you want others to see Jesus as well.
But, please allow me to encourage you. Your SOUL should thirst for the Lord. Are you yearning for him to fill you before you do anything? Are you finding your identity in his overflowing mercy and grace on YOUR life and are you personally worshipping him? Not just in your busyness or in your serving because you want others to see him, but are you earnestly seeking him? Before you can ever give give the true life-saving breath of Christ to anyone else, you should be breathing him in also.
          2.You must secure the mask to your face.
The instructions from the stewardess said I had to secure the mask to my face using the rubber strap. Trust me, if that mask falls from the ceiling, I will know something is up and there won’t be anyone or anything that will keep me from putting that little rubber strap around my head so I can have oxygen. One of my greatest fears is suffocating. I will be certain that I follow the instructions so that I can breathe.
Pastor, read these verses.
Luke 1:3-4
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”
In your position, everyone expects you to have it together. They basically assume you are good with the Lord and most will assume that you are walking closely with the Lord (Read Part 1 of this series about making friends to help fight this) . For those of us that may not be, we become very alone and uncertain of our calling. Let’s do some reflecting.
  • When did you surrender your life to Christ?
  • Who was instrumental in that process?
  • Who has believed in you more than anyone?
  • Who taught you the scriptures/discipled you?
  • Who coached you in ministry?
  • Who loves you more than anyone else?
You know with certainty that the Lord has rescued you, but I want to challenge you to ask the following question. Do you believe the things you teach? Do you believe with certainty the things you teach to your students? As a leader, don’t just think about what you teach, but get to the point to where you believe them more than you believe anything else.
I don’t want to suffocate spiritually. The best way I know how to tell you is this: Don’t study scripture for everyone else. Study scripture for your life and let ministry be the overflow! Your Bible is your mask. Grab it and don’t let anything hold you from strapping it on your heart, mind, soul and strength.
           3.You must breathe in.
As I thought about the fact that the oxygen bag may not inflate, that visualization made me uneasy. I mean, if those little bags fall out, I want that bag to inflate so I know that its working! I know I have to trust that the oxygen is coming, but I want to see it. Just thinking that it could not inflate actually slows my heart down a little!
Do you trust that God is working in your life? In 15 years of student ministry, I went through times that I wondered, “Is all this worth it?” and “Do I matter?”. I had times where I felt dry and wondered if the Lord was actually orchestrating things still. If I’m honest, sometimes, I wonder still. When I see the spiritual state of our country, the rise of ISIS, the bombings in Egypt… my mind begins to think, “What is all this?” and “Where is the Lord?”.
This is where I reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Pastor, our responsibility is not to understand all the workings of God, but trust that He is working. Since the beginning of time, He has been orchestrating all things for His Glory and our good. He is building to the culmination of Christ’s return! Even when you cannot see it, He is using you, your life and your ministry in his story! The fact that God has redeemed you and set your feet forward as his ambassador displays his plan is still moving forward.
Friends, breathe in the goodness of our God. Trust in His ways. Believe His thoughts are good. Understand that He is Holy and His plan is already complete. Stop today and just look around and simply say, “Thank You, God. Thank you for rescuing me. Thank you loving me. Thank you for sending me. I trust you.” After you have done this, take a large breath in and allow the Lord’s Spirit to overwhelm you. You may not see all the workings of God, but you can know, that He is sovereign and that He is truly moving all over the world and in you.
Praying for you!
-TJ