How To Fall In Love With Your Devotional Life Again

A few weeks ago, I shared 8 signs that your devotional life—your quality time spent with God in prayer and Bible study—may be caught in a performance trap.

These signs included: being stuck in a rut in your devotional life (or ceasing altogether), not finding it life-giving, having a nagging sense of condemnation about the quality or quantity, not hearing personally from God, and so on. [1]

Having a deep-rooted belief that we have to work to please our Father—instead of realising the truth that we are already pleasing to Him—can affect our ability to connect with God and His Word.

Jesus’ Remedy for the Performance Trap

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Rev 2:1-5

The Ephesian Church fell into a lifestyle of performance.

At the start, they were on fire and in love with God.

But gradually, their faith degenerated. Eventually, the church was focussed on doing a bunch of good works. They were busy doing the work of the Lord, but neglecting the Lord of the work.

Jesus gives them a remedy for their position. He tells them to remember, to repent, and to do the things that they did at first.

A key to recognising whether or not we have been caught in a performance trap is to simply ask the question,

‘How does the expression of my love for God compare now to when I first became a Christian?’

Once we recognise that we have fallen into a lifestyle of performance—working to please God without enjoying a love relationship with Him—we can then repent and receive Jesus’ forgiveness.

How wonderful is God’s grace—that through Jesus’ death on the cross we are forgiven. Our slate is wiped clean, and we can begin again. And this is true, not only of our devotional life, but every other area of our life too.

The First Step To Repositioning Our Devotional Lives

One practical way that we can disarm and escape the performance trap is to move from an activity-based devotional life to an outcome-focused devotional life. Let me explain:

Our devotional life is activity-based when its goal is to complete an activity such as:

  • Read a passage of Scripture
  • Complete our devotional exercise, or
  • Spend a certain amount of time in prayer.

These activities are beneficial and bring us closer to God. However, when they become an end in themselves, we have moved into performance.

This can easily be overcome by redefining our goals—our desired outcome for our devotional life.

God Himself initiates true devotional outcomes.

  • He wants to have an intimate relationship with you.
  • He wants to involve you in His plans and purposes for your life and those around you, through prayer.
  • He wants to you to grow and interact with Him through His Word, the Bible.

Devotional activities, tools and methods serve these outcomes, not the other way around.

Let’s take a look at some examples of meaningful goals for your devotional life.

I recommend that you consider choosing at least one outcome related to prayer, and one related to Bible study:

Prayer Goals

**I have an intimate relationship with God

**I regularly have close and meaningful conversation with God

**I am involved in fulfilling God’s plan for my life and those around me through prayer

**I am participating with God to bring ‘breakthrough,’ whether it be in my circumstances, or in the lives of others

Bible Study Goals

**I am interacting with God through reading the Bible and recording what He is saying to me

**I am growing in my spiritual life through practical Bible study

**I am learning more about God and His ways through studying the Bible in-depth.

Choosing A Goal That Fits Your Current Position

The outcome that you choose needs to be relevant to where you are. If you have realised that your devotional life needs resuscitation, for example, then you may start with a very simple and achievable goal, such as meaningful conversation with God. [2]

Author and speaker Keri Wyatt Kent tells of her struggles with devotional time becoming another item to be ticked off on the daily ‘to-do list.’ A simple question a spiritual mentor once gave her that she found helpful was, ‘Where did I create some space for God in my day?’ [3]

I love it!

A basic outcome you could pursue, is simply,

“I am creating some space for God and His Word every day”

However, if you already have an effective devotional life, and are looking for a ‘turbo boost’, you may go for more challenging goals such as learning more about God and his ways through in-depth Bible study.

If you choose simple goals for the stage where you are at currently, you can review and upgrade your outcomes when you are stronger.


Exercise:

Think about one or more outcomes you would like from your devotional life, taking into account where you are currently positioned.

Choose at least one goal related to prayer, and at least one related to Bible study.

You do not have to choose an outcome from the ones listed above. You can make up your own. It may help to write it out and keep it in front of you.

Take care not to choose activity-based goals. If you are unsure, read the above distinctions again.

I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts or questions on this topic. Leave a note in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.


Notes:

[1] For more about this read the following post:

8 Signs Your Devotional Life May Be Caught In A Performance Trap

[2] I share about this in the following post:

Does Your Devotional Life Need Resuscitating?

[1] For further information about Keri, see http://www.keriwyattkent.com/

The article can be found here: http://www.navpress.com/magazines/archives/article.aspx?id=10236


© Helen Calder 2011   Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

 

How Using Your Learning Style Can Revitalise Your Bible Study

In the same way that we have different gifts, talents and personalities, each of us has a unique way that we best learn and study.

When I attended a course on how to train people in groups, I was taught to make allowance for individuals’ different learning styles. [1]

This is why I don’t just talk during my training sessions; I also incorporate visual aids and other media, give opportunities for practical application and encourage questions and discussion.

Schoolteachers are taught about learning styles and encouraged to incorporate them into their classroom environment.

What would happen if we began to apply these same principles to discipleship, Bible study and our devotional life?

Do You Know what Your Learning Style is?

You may relate to one of these 3 main learning styles:

1. Visual—you learn best by seeing—reading, diagrams, visual media and other visual aids.

2. Auditory—you learn best by hearing—lectures, audio media, discussions.

3. Kinesthetic—you learn best by doing—hands on, activities and an emphasis on practical application.

The Visual style can be broken into two further categories: Visual and Reading/Writing. [2]

At the end of this post I will give you a link to an online questionnaire to help you discover your primary learning styles.

How Using my Learning Style Renewed my Devotional Life.

I have shared recently how our devotional life—vitally connecting to God through prayer and studying the Bible—can suffer when we feel we have to do it out of duty, to please God or people. [3]

A few years ago, I became exhausted and my devotional life waned—especially Bible reading, study and journaling.

When I was picking up the pieces of my life, I reflected on where I had gone wrong.

One of the things I noticed was that I had been trying to conform to a set method of journaling for my personal Bible study.

The method I had been using did not come naturally to me.

My personal learning style is primarily visual. Being creative, I also need an unstructured way to record what I am learning from the Bible.

I put aside my A5 lined journal, purchased an A4 unlined notepad, and began to use diagrams and mind-maps to visualise what I was learning about a Bible passage or topic and to record what God was saying to me.

Life began to flow back into the time I spent with God’s Word!

Devotional Methods are Tools, not Rules.

It is vital that we understand that devotional methods, such as journaling styles, are not rules to be followed.

Instead, they are tools that we can choose to use—if they suit our unique wiring—that can help us connect to God and His Word.

There is a common misconception that one particular devotional or journaling method is better than others.

For example, some churches provide SOAP journals for all of their congregational members.[4]

SOAP is a simple and effective devotional tool that everyone can (and should) learn. However—let’s not stop there!

The limitation of SOAP journaling is that it assumes a Reading/Writing learning style. And this does not come naturally to many of us.

So let us teach, encourage, model and provide resources for Bible study that incorporate all learning styles.

And let’s validate the unique ways that people connect with God, rather than endangering their relationship with Him by leading them into performance.

Marlene Le Fever, who teaches about learning styles, tells the moving story of an old African-American man who approached her at the end of a session.
“Teacher!” he said. “Iffen somebody’d a tol’ me when I was a kid that God made my mind right, I’da’ done something for my Jesus.” [5]

Using a Questionnaire to Discover Your Personal Learning Style

You are created to uniquely connect with God and His Word, the Bible.

Do you know what your learning style is? Sometimes, we are aware of our primary learning style but can also benefit from using a questionnaire to help us confirm this or discover our secondary learning style.

I have included a link below to an online questionnaire that can help you discover your learning style. [6]

Following are the basic learning styles and some ideas of how to make the most of these in your Bible study and in journaling.

Ideas for Bible Study Using the 4 Main Learning Styles

VISUAL – You learn by seeing

  • Journal using diagrams and pictures. Try mind-mapping your Bible study
  • Make use of colour coding, indexing and highlighting in your journal
  • Bible teachers that use vivid (picture) story telling will suit you
  • Use your imagination when reading Bible stories (create an internal movie of the scene)
  • Parts of the Bible have been filmed using the NIV text—try Matthew or Acts on DVD. Ask at the Christian bookstores what is available
  • Illustrative Bible study tools and dictionaries
  • Locate good teaching DVDs

AUDITORY – You learn by hearing

  • Read portions of Scripture aloud to yourself
  • Process what you are learning in the Bible verbally—you can do this through praying about it, sharing with others or simply musing your thoughts aloud
  • Try a conversational journaling approach, where you talk with God about what you are learning and write what you ‘hear’ Him saying to you (e.g. prayer journaling)
  • Listen to the Bible on MP3 or CD—purchase or download free from the Internet
  • As above, but Bible teaching (Ensure that the teaching is sound and not slanted towards a particular doctrines or agenda)
  • iPod or MP3 player while walking, using public transport, doing housework, etc

READING / WRITING – You learn with words

  • Traditional forms of devotions may suit you
  • Try daily devotional booklets
  • Practice journaling (SOAP or similar)
  • Selective Bible reading (character studies, books, portions)
  • Sequential Bible reading (read the Bible in a Year – look-up or One Year Bible formats)
  • Bible teaching or study books
  • Use written study tools such as commentaries, dictionaries—in text form, software or online

KINESTHETIC – You learn by doing

  • Find a good devotional that includes Bible references and reading, and includes life application principles
  • Teaching and study tools that have practical life application will suit you.
  • Write ‘action points’ in your journal from your Bible studies or teaching that you receive. This will help translate what you learn into everyday life. Follow them through
  • Teaching with real-life case studies and stories will be helpful
  • Cross-reference devotional and instructional teaching in the Bible to historical Biblical accounts of actual characters. For example, a study on wisdom—who demonstrated wisdom in the Bible and what did they do?
  • When studying with others, discuss real life situations and case studies. Try role play.

If you have found this article or recommended resources helpful, I would love your feedback, as I am in the process of developing further studies and resources to aid people in this area. Do you know what your learning style is? Are the above lists helpful, or do you have other ideas?

Please contact me using the comments section of this blog or use the contact form here to email me. If the comments section is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.


Notes:

[1] Cert IV in Assessment & Workplace Training

[2] In 1987, a researcher called Neil Fleming split Visual, which originally included learning through reading, into two categories: Visual and Reading/Writing. Visual encompassed learning through diagrams and symbols, whereas Reading/Writing referred to the traditional, text-based style of learning. This distinction is helpful in examining fresh approaches to devotional study. Fleming, N.D. and Mills, C. (1992), Not Another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection, To Improve the Academy, Vol. 11, 1992., page 137.

[3] See the following posts:

Does Your Devotional Life Need Resuscitating?

8 Signs Your Devotional Life May Be Caught In A Performance Trap

[4] I recommend the SOAP method of journaling personally. See the following post:

When Your Devotional Life Is Dry: How To Fall In Love With The Bible Again

[5] Le Fever, M. Learning Styles, Reaching Everyone God Gave You 2002.  Cook. p 11,

[6] Take the VARK learning styles questionnaire online at
http://www.vark-learn.com/

For more information on learning styles, see also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles


© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog   http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/

A ministry of David McCracken Ministries

8 Signs Your Devotional Life may be Caught in a Performance Trap

A Life out of Balance

Last week, I was shocked to learn that I have been imbalanced my whole life!

A podiatrist examined my feet and explained that they are not naturally straight. My ankles turn inwards, resulting in pressure being placed on the wrong parts of my feet when I’m walking. This condition explains recent soreness in my feet and possibly, the lower back trouble I have had for many years.

I would never have known anything was out of order if I had not been forced, through pain, to seek help.

The Paradox

Similarly, when we are experiencing internal pain that does not have an obvious or immediate source, it may be a signal that something in our lives needs attending to.

I was faced with a situation like this a couple of years ago, when I withdrew from most of my ministry and vocational responsibilities, exhausted.

The paradox, I realised, was that my devotional life was a key to my recovery. I desperately needed to reconnect in an intimate relationship with God.

But how could I, when instead of being life-giving, my devotional life had become just another task to accomplish, that I couldn’t face?

My spiritual life had become seriously out of balance—and I did not know how to bring it back to health.

8 Signs Your Devotional Life may be Caught in a Performance Trap.

Our devotional life is meant to be life giving.

Prayer and Bible study should never be a Christian duty—something we do to please God. We are already pleasing to Him.

Neither should it be about serving or pleasing people.

It is possible to know this (as I did), and yet still revert to a lifestyle of performance when under pressure.

So—what are some signs that your devotional life may be caught in a performance trap? See if you can identify with any of these:

1. Stuck in a Rut

You are bored with prayer and Bible study, doing the same things over and over and not sure how to break out

2. Condemnation

When you miss a devotional time, once or ongoing, you feel a nagging sense of guilt or condemnation

3. Failing to Meet a Standard

You generally feel as though you do not measure up as a Christian in your devotional life

4. Wrong Focus

You are concentrating more on doing the devotional activity than on having an intimate relationship with God

5. Not Life-Giving

Your devotional life is not recharging you spiritually, emotionally and mentally

6. Not Hearing

You haven’t sensed God speaking to you personally in your devotions for a long time, or at least not very often

7. Ministry focused

Your focus in prayer and study is primarily on the need to pray for other people or find Bible teaching for a ministry responsibility.

8. Stopping Altogether

Your devotional life—in particular, a set time you spend time with God in prayer and in Bible reading or study—is irregular or non-existent. You are not drawn to, or excited about it.

If you can identify with any of the above symptoms, I have good news for you! You CAN rediscover a regular time of prayer and Bible study that is life giving and fosters your intimate relationship with God.

The Danger of Christian Performance

Christian ‘performance’ is when we feel a need to do something a certain way in order to feel good about ourselves or to gain approval from God or others.

It invariably shows up in our devotional life, affecting our relationship with God.

I realise that performance may not be an issue that you face personally, even if you do relate to some of the above symptoms. You may simply be busy, or bored.

So over the next couple of weeks, I will give you a list of some practical things you can do to refresh your devotional life.

However, it is probable that presence of the above signs—like fruit—is symptomatic of a deeper issue other than just busyness or boredom.

That deeper problem may be an internal drive to perform.

And when performance is the underlying problem, the worst thing we can do is to try and fix our problem through creating another to do list!

The Hidden Roots of the Orphan Mindset

Deep down, hidden under the soil of our lives are root systems—beliefs that we live by.

This need to perform comes from an orphan mindset. [1]

We have an orphan mindset when:

  • We find it hard to believe that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally
  • We are seeking approval of our Father God through performance—doing the right things
  • We fear or believe that He is disapproving of us when we do not measure up to a standard

Often this kind of deep-seated belief is related to the absence of a loving earthly father or father figure in our lives.

The Truth That Sets Us Free

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can uncover the deep-rooted beliefs that have kept us from a love-relationship with God and replace them with the truth from the Bible.

Our Father loves us so much that He paid the highest price possible—the blood of His Son Jesus—to restore us to relationship with Him.

We can be certain of His love and His approval as sons and daughters—without doing anything to earn it.

‘God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ (2 Cor 5:21)

Recently I was listening to a message by Leif Hetland. [2] He reminds us that when Jesus went to the cross, God exchanged Jesus’ righteousness—His perfect ‘score’ with God—for our imperfect one.

Jesus replaced our D+ report card with His A+ one. Now that is good news!

Before we do anything, we already have an A+ on our report card—and that includes our devotional life.

Amazing grace!

If you sense that what I have shared today may be an issue for you, I encourage you to pause, reflect on this glorious truth and pray about it. [3]

Our whole life can be lived out of this joyful experience of freedom.


Notes:
[1] I first came across teaching about the orphan spirit when reading Jack Frost’s material in 2002. Since then, this vital teaching has become widespread in the church, bringing healing to many.

See the notes in the following post, where I share the links to Jack Frost’s original articles on this subject:

No Longer An Orphan: How I Discovered The Father’s Love

[2] This is from Leif Hetland’s message entitled ‘The Three Chairs.’ You can view this resource here (I notice it can also be found searching iTunes podcasts):

http://www.globalmissionawareness.com/Store/Products/1000016726/Store/MP3s/Which_Chair_are.aspx

[3] I share a prayer to help break free from an orphan mindset here:

Breaking Free From An Orphan Mindset


Do you have any ideas or experiences to share on this topic? I would love to hear from you. Leave a note in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.


© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog http://propheticpeople.com/

Now on team with David McCracken Ministries

Does Your Devotional Life Need Resuscitating?

Two years ago I experienced burnout. I can now reflect with gratitude on the things that I learned during and following that period—and the wonder of God’s grace as He has led me back to a place of health spiritually, emotionally and physically. [1]

One day during that time I remarked to someone that I was struggling in my devotional life. This was met with a shocked response—it seemed to be incomprehensible that as the prayer leader of our church, I could be having difficulties with Bible study and prayer!

What Is a Devotional Life?

Our devotional life is the substance of our personal relationship with God as a Christian. It includes communication with Him through conversation and other forms of prayer, as well as Bible reading and study.

A healthy devotional life both feeds and is drawn from an intimate love relationship with God.

Because our devotional life has to do with our personal times with the Bible and in prayer, it is easy to cover it up when it is not going well.

The Elephant in the Room

In church life, our devotional difficulties can become like the proverbial elephant in the room that everyone knows is there, but nobody wants to talk about.

This is frequently true of Christian leaders. When our lives become busy with ministry it can be easy to spend our devotional time preparing for ministry to others instead of relating personally to God.

Sometimes leaders find it difficult to openly encourage others’ devotional lives because they are struggling with their own.

Your Devotional Life—A Quick Diagnostic Tool

If you would like to grow in your devotional life or help others in this area, you might find the following categories helpful. Does one describe your devotional life right now?

A. ‘L-Plates’—Learner

**You are a new Christian and would like to learn how to begin a devotional life for the first time

**You may have been a Christian for a while but have not yet developed a devotional life

**You would like to study the Bible for yourself but are unsure where to begin or what study tools are available

**You have not yet developed a regular connection and prayer time with God.

B. Resuscitation

**Your devotional life, or some aspect of it is ‘dead in the water.’ You need rescuing!

**You have stopped having time for God; you may even have lost heart and given up on a devotional life altogether

**There may be external reasons in your world for your lack of a devotional life—stress relationally, vocationally, and educationally. Your world is spinning around and you feel powerless to stop it

**You may also be avoiding a devotional life due to a nagging sense of condemnation or you may feel displeasing to God.

C. Renewal

**You have some measure of activity in your devotional life

** You may be irregular or haphazard in your approach to devotions

**You may need help in one or more areas of prayer, worship, Bible reflection and Bible study

**You may be stuck in a rut, and feel your devotional life is not as good as it could be

D. Turbo Boost

**You have a regular devotional life that includes prayer and Bible study

**It may be starting to lose its shine and you could do with encouragement and a fresh boost

**You would like to know how to go to the next level in prayer or Bible study

** You could do with some more ideas and tools to help you. [2]

There is no right or wrong answer, only real and honest answers. Most of us have struggled with our devotional life seasonally if we have been Christians for any length of time.

Why is Your Devotional Life Important?

Your devotional life is vital because it connects you relationally to God. It is the place of conversation, where you learn to know Jesus not only as Saviour and Lord, but also as a Friend.

To assist you with some motivation, here are some more reasons why your devotional life is important:

1. Jesus demonstrated and talked about a devotional life with God

Prayer was a regular part of Jesus’ life. Jesus also had an intimate knowledge of the Scriptures and understood how these related to His life and His personal journey. Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23; Luke 21:37, Luke 5:16

2. It is your primary source of spiritual nourishment and growth Psalm 1:1-3

3. It provides protection from sin and strengthens us in times of crisis and temptation Matt 26:40-41, Ps 119:11

4. It helps you with guidance, in your everyday life as well as with important long-term decisions John 10:27

5. A healthy devotional life results in fruitfulness (others around us benefit from our devotional lives) John 15:4, 7

6. It plugs you into God, your Source of power John 7:37-38

It is through your devotional life that you hear God personally speak to you about what he wants to do in and through you.

You also grow in wisdom and Christian maturity as you get to know more about God and his ways through the Bible.

We wouldn’t locate the water mains to our home and wind the supply right down to a trickle—but this is what we do with God’s power in our lives when we do not plug into Him with a healthy devotional life.

Next week I will look at how performance can kill our devotional life and what we can do when it has been reduced to a routine.


Questions to Consider

1. Which position—L-Plates, Resuscitation, Renewal, or Turbo-Boost—do I most relate to?

2. What are some factors that have contributed to me being at this place?

3. Is there someone caring who I can talk to and pray with about this—and with whom I can be mutually accountable to grow in this vital area?

If you are a leader, consider providing a safe place for others to discuss where they are in relation to their devotional lives.


Do you have any ideas or experiences to share on this topic? I would love to hear from you. Leave a note in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.


Notes

[1] I have shared some of my journey relating to burnout in the blog. The following post reviews some of the reasons behind it:

http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2010/09/05/no-longer-an-orphan-how-i-discovered-the-fathers-love/

[2] Journaling can be a helpful tool to assist in renewing your devotional life. I share about two different types of journaling here:

Prayer Journaling:

http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2010/01/29/activate-your-prophetic-gift-through-prayer-journaling/

SOAP Journaling:

http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2010/02/04/when-your-devotional-life-is-dry-how-to-fall-in-love-with-the-bible-again/


© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog http://propheticpeople.com/

Now on team with David McCracken Ministries

The Most Important Decision You Can Make As The Year Begins

Devotional Life

Our Window of Opportunity

The start of a year can be a time in which we review our responsibilities for the coming year. We have a window of opportunity in which to decide which roles to keep or take on in our church, ministry, or other activities outside of our personal and family life.

Did you know that these are decisions that have eternal consequences?

The Day Martha Lost The Joy Of Serving Jesus

Martha was a good woman who, along with her sister Mary, became a disciple of Jesus. Jesus valued their hospitality and their home became a place of refreshing that He made use of as He travelled in and out of Jerusalem (Luke 10:38, John 12:1-2).

One day, Martha received Jesus into her home for dinner. But she became overloaded with her work preparing for the meal. To make matters worse, her sister Mary absconded from her kitchen duties and sat down to listen to Jesus’ teaching, leaving her to labour alone.

Finally, the stress became too much for Martha to bear. She marched into the room where Jesus was speaking and ordered Him to tell Mary to help her.

Far from the response Martha was looking for, Jesus took the opportunity to point out that she, not Mary, was in the wrong. Her attitude of care and worry over all the details of serving was unnecessary, and Mary had made the better, lasting choice.

Many of us can identify with Martha. I can! Martha had lost the joy of serving Jesus and was hindered from spending quality time with Him.

What were some of the reasons Martha got into this stressful place, and we do today? Here are some potential traps we need to avoid as we make decisions regarding our life and ministry in 2011.

4 Traps To Avoid in our Service for God

Trap #1: Maintaining High Standards

Perhaps Martha was preparing a 4 star meal, when Jesus and His friends would have been happy with much simpler fare. But Martha had a certain standard of hospitality in mind that she wanted to keep up. Maybe she had a reputation for quality hospitality that she wanted to live up to. That standard became a trap.

Prayerfully ask, ‘Are there any areas in my life or ministry that I am intent on maintaining a high standard could cause me stress? What is my motivation for this?

Ask, ‘What is the opportunity cost of meeting this high standard?’ What will I neglect by insisting that I meet my desired criteria? If the answer is, time to enjoy God, enjoy life, or enjoy your family, you may need to reduce your expectations or release the role.

Trap #2: Filling Gaps

Like Martha did, we can be tempted to fill any gaps left by other people. This is especially true when we have leadership responsibility. We want to provide a certain level of service and feel the ministry will fall over if we don’t step in.

Sometimes, others may place well-intentioned emotional pressure on us to fill a gap. If this is the case, stop! Step back and prayerfully ask yourself, family members and God if this is the right course for you to take.

Ask yourself, ‘What is the worst thing that can happen?’ Is this gap something I can trust God with, or am I trusting in my own efforts?

There may be other team members who will step into the void when it appears. They may not have the courage to do so until they see that their contribution is needed.

Even if this doesn’t happen, isn’t God’s grace big enough to make up the difference?

Realise that the worst thing that can REALLY happen is that you is that you fill the ministry gap and become stretched so thin you dry up, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically. Eventually the very thing you are working to keep will be lost to you.

Trap #3: Prioritising Service Above Relationship

Martha was so busy serving her guests that she didn’t take time to be with her guests. She had become so stressed that the most important part of hospitality, spending time WITH her Guest, was neglected.

Martha was conforming to a misguided value that serving Jesus by taking physical action is the most important thing a Christian can do.

Sometimes, like Martha, we embrace the same belief. This can arise out of urgency to meet a genuine need.

The dire circumstance of unreached people groups and lost people in our community heading towards a Christ-less eternity can become a driving force. For many years, my husband and I were involved in world missions. But many times we were in danger of neglecting personal and family issues as well as our personal relationship with Jesus.

More than once I have become so engaged in meeting needs until I had nothing left to give. I call this, ‘Christian service burnout.’

The presupposition is that our highest act of service to God is to offer all of our gifts, time and energy to the cause of Christ.

But is that really what Jesus wants?

Trap #4: Valuing Other People’s Opinions Above Our Devotional Life

Another trap we can fall into is to give way to the pressure of other people’s opinions or values. It is important to note that Mary did not allow Martha’s opinion to sway her from spending time with Jesus.

Be a Non-Conformist Like Mary

It takes courage not to conform to the expectations of others in our world—especially the opinions of other Christians! But we must have that courage if we will have Mary’s reward.

Watch out when your intention to release or bring focus to your ministry is resisted. It is understandable that you will be missed, but you are not irreplaceable.

As Christians, and prophetic people, the greatest investment we can make into our relationship with God, our spiritual gifts and ministries, is the personal time we spend with Jesus—our devotional life.

As you plan for this new year, will you value your relationship with Jesus above service?

That is the most important decision you can make as the year begins.



Related Posts:

Preventing Ministry Burnout: 6 Questions You Can Ask

Spiritual Renewal: Cafe Moments with God

When Your Devotional Life Is Dry: How To Fall In Love With The Bible Again



© Helen Calder    2009, 2011 Enliven Publishing

http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/

Now on team with David McCracken Ministries