I recently posted 10 ways to take the loneliness out of leadership. Here I'd like to dive into the first: Putting our relationship with God at No. 1.
Bill Hybels once said that, his work for God was killing the work of God in him.
I am sure that almost every church leader understands that feeling. For a workaholic like me, who sees much of his worth in what he does rather than who he is, this can be a real danger.
I have come to believe, as a church leader, I can pretend that I have relationship with God when I really haven't. I may be working extremely had for him but have a defective relationship. Some signs of this:
- The only time God's word is read is to prepare for a sermon.
- We pray much more in public that we do in private.
- We challenge others to a way of life but never really challenge ourselves.
- The stories we share about ourselves to encourage others all happened a decade ago rather than last week.
- We can't remember the last time we shed a tear over a life God has entrusted to our leadership
- We start to think we are to be served by people rather than to serve them.
As leaders we have to be careful that we live in close relationship with Jesus and not fall into the trap of a second hand relationship. Job prayed it this way:
I admit I once lived by rumours of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumour. - Job 42 (Mess)Some practical steps:
- Revisit and savour your salvation moment often. (remember your first love)
- Read God's Word often and regularly not in study or preparation. Not to hear God's voice for others but to hear the sweet intimate whisper of your ultimate and eternal lover - Jesus.
- Be less concerned about the transformation of others but beg the Holy Spirit to challenge and transform you as you apply His word to your life.
- Talk to God regularly and often. Build time into your diary that moves for nothing, but don't leave it there. Practise the presence of God (as one saint put it) in your daily routine, just between you and him.
- The idea of a Sabbath is old hat to many and if it is thought about, it is as a day of rest. But I like how John Piper puts it: "It means set the day aside for special focus on what is holy, namely, God and his holy works. For us church leaders it is unlikely going to work for us on Sundays. We can't afford to not build this into our lives!
Relationship dispels loneliness and relationship with Jesus really is the ultimate fix!