To Provide a Positive Example
We need to retain our enthusiasm for the things of God in order to be effective ministers. And we need to model a lively Christian faith. These are good reasons to develop spiritual disciplines that are separate from our ministry responsibilities. Yet these reasons are in themselves instrumental because they help us meet a ministry goal rather than nurturing a relationship with God as an end in itself.
And that is one of the perils of Christian ministry. This wonderful thing we are called to—an intimate relationship with God from which ministry grows and flows—is itself a part of what we are called to model for others. This can be a recipe for hubris and self-importance. And the pull of pride is yet one more reason to develop and practice spiritual disciplines that have no connection with our ministry. These disciplines and practices can help us learn to live as beloved children of God—in the midst of our calling to lead and serve others in their journey of growing into Christ’s likeness.
I can picture saints from ages past reading this article, and I imagine they would say that all the reasons I’ve given here are instrumental, and that God invites us to draw near simply because God is so good. Full stop. No other reason. And they would be absolutely right. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1). “How great is the love that God has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).
—Lynne M. Baab is a Presbyterian minister and the author of Fasting: Spiritual Freedom Beyond our Appetites and Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest; copyright 2008 by Christianity Today.
Note: This article is excerpted from our Training Tool Spiritual Disciplines for Leaders.
- What spiritual disciplines do I practice on a regular basis?
- Of those disciplines, which are directly related to my ministry role?
- What are some disciplines I could practice that are separated from my ministry? What do I need to do to begin practicing them?