I wrote an article a while ago (click here for that article) challenging my ministry friends to make sure they carve out time to listen to other sermons for their own growth. Not growth in preaching skills or anything like that. Their personal spiritual growth. In my weekly schedule, I try to make time each week for at least a couple of different sermons from preachers that I learn a lot from. Although I am not perfect at doing this, I try to make an effort to keep this a part of my weekly schedule.
Something took place late last week that reminded me more than ever that we, as Christian leaders, preachers, and ministers, have got to guard our hearts and focus on our relationship with Jesus. This whole thing is still a little raw, but I want to pass this warning on to you. All of us, as Christ followers have to work on our relationship, but those that are in the ministry are sometimes more susceptible to not guarding ourselves.
It is easy to forget to work on your own relationship with Jesus when you are busy with preparing lessons, sermons, worship sets, etc. The week is gone before you realize that you never cracked the Bible for your own study, or spent any time in prayer. I get it. I struggle with this more than I would like to admit. And it has got to change. If you do not struggle with that, please guard yourself, because that will be an area that the enemy attacks at some pint.
So what event took place last week that makes me want to warn all of you, especially those in ministry? A man that I respected, that had 25+ years in ministry, that was the first worship minister that I remember (from when I was in 4th grade), a man that helped me form who I am in my relationship with Jesus in the way I thought he led his life, went on stage at a Freedom From Religion event in Pittsburgh, PA and announced to the world that he is an atheist, and has been one since 2008. He did not leave full time ministry, however, until at least 2013.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. Sitting in worship with him, seeing him lead worship, participating in board meetings with him, I had no clue anything like this was going on in his life. I am still processing, and in reality, going through some of the stages of grief.
For my purposes here, I do not want to go into the details of why this man did what he did. I want to use this as a warning to all of us. Guard your heart. Guard your relationship with Jesus. Do not put your job, even if it is ministry, above your personal relationship with Jesus. Paul challenges us in Romans 12 to not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed. Let me just quote it here. In Romans 12:1,2, Paul states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
When we lose sight of our relationship with Jesus, and trying to be transformed into His image, the world begins to transform us into what it wants us to be. For those in ministry, it can be even harder if we do not guard ourselves more vigilantly. Let’s rally around each other, and help each other to not lose sight that our relationship with God has to be strong before we can try to help others with their relationships. As the author of Hebrews tells us, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…”
Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak