Parched relationship with God
Lasting joy in Christian service arises from getting to know Christ better and better. You may think that is obvious to us as pastors and church leaders. Well, I wish this was so. It is quite easy for us to simply do our ministry routinely instead of starting it on a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, your ministry will not work if you do not build a deeper relationship with Jesus.
In Philippians 3,10 we read: I want to recognize him and the power of his resurrection and the communion of his sufferings, and thus be made equal to his death. Recognizing the word refers to a close, intimate relationship that exists between a man and a woman. One of the reasons why Paul was pleased, even though he wrote the letter to the Philippians from prison, was his intimate, deep relationship with Christ.
For the past two weeks, I have been discussing with you the two strongest killers of Christian joy - legalism and false priorities. A parched relationship with Christ will also kill your joy in ministry. I remember hearing the story of a boy falling out of bed a long time ago. His mother walked into the bedroom and said: What happened, Tommy? He said: I suppose I lingered too close to where I got into bed.
This is the problem in Christian service for many of us. We come into the family of God, but we stay too close to the point where we got in. We do not go deeper and further. We are not spiritually equal to know God more deeply and personally. Would you like to regain your joy in the service? Continue to grow in your relationship with Christ.
What can you do to deepen your relationship with Christ? There is no secret about how one gets to know Christ better in the Christian ministry. They grow in the same way as everyone else.
- They spend time with God. Do you spend more and more time with God? When we are very busy in the Christian ministry, we often allow our time to suffer with God. We have to be very jealous of our time with God. Serving God without spending time with Him is fruitless. The more you spend time with Christ, the better you know him - and the more joyful your community ministry will be.
- Talk to God continuously. But you are not just spending time with God. They build a closer relationship with God by constantly talking to Him. It's not about a bunch of imaginative words. My prayers do not sound very spiritual, but I speak with God all the time. I can stand in the lane of a fast food restaurant and say, God, I'm really glad I can eat this snack. I'm hungry! The key is: keep talking to God. And do not be mad about the details of your prayer life - such as when, where, and how long to pray. Then you have exchanged a relationship for a ritual or a prescription. These rituals will bring you no joy. Only a growing relationship with Jesus Christ will do that.
- Trust God with all your heart. God wants us to learn to trust Him. This is often the reason why he allows problems to creep into our lives. Through these problems he can demonstrate his reliability - and thereby your trust in him will grow. And your relationship with him will grow in this process. Take a look at some of the battles you've been through lately. How does God try to make you trust Him more? These problems can be a door to an even closer relationship with God.
Paul tells us in Philippians 3 what his first goal in life was. He does not refer to rewards in Heaven, to distinctions from others, or even to founding churches or people to Christ. He says: The first, the most important goal in my life is to know Christ. He says this at the end of his life. Did not he know God yet? Of course he knew him. But he wants to get to know him better. His hunger for God never stopped. The same should apply to us. Our joy in the Christian ministry depends on it.
by Rick Warren