Many years ago I heard Os Guiness speak at a national youth conference. I remember him saying something to the effect of…..”Whenever I meet a Buddhist leader, I meet a holy man. Whenever I meet a Christian leader, I meet a manager.”
It struck me that church planters sometimes let down their guard in the rush to get the new church off the ground. Here are the 7 areas we cannot afford to let go.
1. Guard your heart.
Jesus said,“A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”Luke 6:45Jesus seemed to be saying thatbuilding a heart is primary; seeing a ministry flourish is secondary.
Do you still have a passion for your ministry? Do you care about the people in your area? This is one of the subtlest traps. The leader is no longer doing it with all of his/her heart. Ask God to restore your love for it.
2. Guard your relationship with God.
Are you being faithful to spiritual practices? Prayer? Letting the Word nurture you? Generosity?
There were two guys working for the city. One would dig a hole. He would dig, dig, dig, the other would come behind him and fill the hole. Fill, fill, fill. These two men worked furiously. One digging a hole, the other filling it up again. A man was watching from the sidewalk and couldn’t believe how hard these men were working, but couldn’t understand what they were doing. Finally he just had to ask them. He said to the hole-digger, “I appreciate how hard you work, but what are you doing? You dig a hole and your partner comes behind you and fills it up again!” The hole-digger replied, “Oh yeah, must look funny, but the guy who plants the trees is sick today.”
To me the story says, there’s no sense in digging the hole (all the things we substitute in the church for the one thing) if I don’t plant the tree (relationship with Christ) before I fill the hole back up (busy life).
3. Guard your back.
Peter wrote, “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.”I Peter 5:8-9
Develop a prayer team to support you. Set aside prayer days and retreat days.
4. Guard your character.
Are you a person that people can trust? “Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. And as long as the king sought the Lord, God gave him success….But after Uzziah become powerful, his pride led to his downfall. (He changed the rules!)2 Chronicles 26:6, 16
Without your moral authority, you have nothing.
5. Guard against burnout.
Get a life and keep it! One of the biggest reasons for plateaus in our growth is a need that we leaders develop to do it all and do it right ourselves. We always have to be thinking of how to can get more people into the ministry of this church. The church didn’t hire me to do the ministry, but to train and equip lay people.
6. Guard your mind.
What are you allowing to enter in through the door of your mind? Thoughts? Are there major distractions, or complacency? These are very subtle. Never stop depending on the Lord. Never start coasting. Take some risks of faith. Push the envelope. What am I going to do in ministry over the next year that is so risky only God can bail me out?”
7. Guard your motives.
Remember it’s not about you.Nehemiah said, “Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been upon me, and about my conversation with the king.” Nehemiah 2:18
It’s about God.