We’ve been working our way through the service bays in the Soul Care Garage this week.
- Service Bay 1: Routine
- Service Bay 2: Relaxation
- Service Bay 3: Recreation
- Service Bay 4: Rest
- Service Bay 5: Re-thinking
Let’s visit the last two, and make sure you don’t miss the last and most important.
Service Bay 6: Re-prioritize
As our lives slowly yet inexorably grow more complicated and committed, especially in the ministry, we must regularly examine our life and see what we can do to reduce our commitments and obligations. We all do this to some extent – because we all realize that we cannot meet the needs of everyone – the question is more about how seriously and intentionally you do this.
Prevention is better than cure here. If you can learn to say “No” to certain ministry demands and opportunities, it’s a lot easier than having to pull out when you’ve already committed and raised expectations.
You will need to cut out many good things to do the best things. You will need to cut out some ministry to others in order to minister to yourself. The life of the minister is the life of his ministry (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 4:6). What’s your greatest priority? YOUR SOUL!
A pastor’s duties to his wife and children are not reduced by his duty to his flock; rather, they are increased (1 Sam. 15:22-23).
Service Bay 7: Return
The aim of all these other service bays is a return to a Christ-centered life, a life lived in communion with the Lord Jesus; yes, dare I say it, a personal relationship with Jesus. We want a life connected to Him, obedient to Him, imaging Him, glorifying Him, and worshipping Him. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful in returning to the Lord:
- Guard personal Bible reading and prayer time as jealously as you guard your own children.
- Pray out loud. Find a place where you can pray out loud without embarrassment. Hearing your own prayers helps to improve the clarity and intensity of prayer.
- Make singing part of your personal and family devotions.
- Carve out uninterrupted study time in 2-3 hour blocks at least four days a week.
- Read Christ-centered books. Don’t let your love of missiology, ecclesiology, eschatology, apologetics, evangelism, etc., push out daily personal communion with Christ. Why not start with John Owen, Volume 1 on the Glory of Christ, or Volume 7 on Spiritual mindedness; John Flavel, Volume 1 on Christ the Fountain of Life,
- Read for your own soul rather than for ministry to others. It makes a big difference to the personal edification you get from reading if, from time to time, you determine that you will not use anything in a certain book for ministry purposes.
- Listen to Christ-centered sermons from various pastors. We have a wealth of online resources at sites such as SermonAudio.com. I like to listen to preachers outside my own tradition as I often find their approach to texts quite refreshing and stimulating.
- Disconnect from Twitter, Facebook, Email for several hours at a time. Discipline yourself to check only certain number of times a day.
- Seek accountability with another pastor or elder. Read through the 7 R’s, agree parameters, and commit to regular accounting.
Need a tow?
Please visit the Soul Care Garage regularly. The more frequently you visit it, the less time you will spend in each of the service bays. It will save you from the Pastor’s wrecker’s yard, and if you’re already there, get a tow over to this garage and start working your way through the bays until you’re fit for the road again!
This is an edited version of an article that was first published at Gospel Centered Discipleship.