Ever heard this one, “I’m not joining that church because everyone, including the pastor, is a hypocrite?”
Of course, those of us inside the church are all too happy to tell that joker to join anyway because one more (them) won’t hurt. But we don’t.
In today’s blog, I want to talk with you as a pastor or church leader, not about the professional ministry act of preaching, teaching or communicating. My guess is you do that very well.
I want to talk about the very personal issue of you translating that which you preach into how you live. Easy to conceptualize. Not so easy to do.
[One way I’d like to help leaders is to offer a complimentary copy of my book, Right Turns, to any reader of this blog. Right Turns will help you make right decisions and do them RIGHT!]
This is the very private part of what we do as pastors and church leaders. We study the Word to advance the spiritual lives of those under our charge.
We seek to be diligent in the Word and in prayer. But how does it all translate to transformation in our lives. Here are few thoughts.
1. Separate time in the Word TO STUDY from time in the Word FOR YOU.
It is critically important that you make a conscious decision to study for your own enrichment, development and time with the Lord personally. It is one of the most difficult things for pastors to navigate because they spend so much time in the Word in preparation for Sunday. To make this separation, I encourage you to block your calendar daily to be in the Word allowing nothing from the church to divert you – just God and you!
2. Pray for personal spiritual enlightenment.
While serving in “the ministry” is a high calling, it brings with it a deception that says, “All that time preparing to preach certainly must count for ‘time in the Word personally.’” We know the Word never returns void. However, you cannot count on merging the two. You need to continually pray for personal spiritual enlightenment … and the Lord will give you the desires of your heart in this way.
3. Don’t think “one and done.”
Here is the temptation for most of us. We read a blog like this and say to ourselves, “Yep. Gotta do this.” Then we get all pumped to adhere to the principles articulated here … for about a week or a month … then we get distracted and never come back to it. Cannot do that. You can’t say, “Well, I gave this some attention and grew personally” and then stop doing it again and again. It is not “one and done.” You must plan for the long game.
4. Assign a spiritual growth demonstration weekly.
I think one of the centerpieces of your success in translating what you preach into how you live is that you must assign performance measurements. It does not have to be complicated but it does have to have a measure of diligence and personal accountability. I would ask the Lord to show you one aspect of your spiritual development where you can demonstrably show growth in a defined period of time; maybe a week or a month. You don’t advertise it and you don’t preach about it. You just simply begin to demonstrate it … live it … because the Lord enables you to do so.
I believe for this translation to be successful for the long game, you need to write down the things the Lord says to you and the things you do to demonstrate growth as directed and enabled of the Lord. This does two things. It creates accountability for you and it builds in encouragement in the journey as you look back on where you were spiritually and where you find yourself today.
You CAN translate what you preach into how you live. However, it will not happen if you do not take the intentional steps as listed above to grow in your own walk with the Lord. He loves you more than you can imagine and He desires the very best for you in the life you live.
Make it a great one and live well for Him.