Like the exercise of our physical bodies, if we don’t exercise our spiritual bodies, our spiritual antennae will become tone deaf–unable to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Although most pastors have good goals for the New Year when it comes to their physical health, an exercise plan for their spiritual health might not be in place. And if there is one thing your church doesn’t need, it’s a pastor who is spiritually worn out and whose spiritual connection to the power source has become spotty. That is not to say you are a bad pastor or even a non-functioning pastor because we all know pastors who function quite convincingly without spiritual nurturing. But eventually, this is a recipe for burnout. If you desire to grow more spiritually in tune this year, here are a few steps you might want to take. They may seem deceptively simple, but often it’s the simple things we overlook.
- Set aside the time. You’ve heard it said, unless it’s on the calendar it doesn’t happen. If it’s important, it’s worth scheduling time for. So pull out your scheduler and make your spiritual renewal time a priority by putting it on the calendar every week.
- Now that the time is set aside, what will you do with it? To answer that question, ask yourself how you best reconnect with God? Is it a morning jog, is it a walk in the woods, or is it an afternoon of being unplugged from the demands of ministry and the world? Maybe it is a variety of things. Make a list and then work your way through that list.
- Now, the hard part comes–sticking to it. The best advice here is to invite a fellow pastor to be your accountability partner. Perhaps this pastor can cover your emergencies while you take that walk without your cell phone, and then you can return the favor. Email or chat once a week to hold each other accountable for making the time to renew and reconnect with God.
- Finally, nothing renews the mind like the Word of God, but sadly most pastors are only in the Word when studying and using it to prepare for lessons and sermons. Pastors need time in the Word to simply let it speak to them, to let the Spirit leap from the pages as it refreshes and refocuses them. If you need a devotional or a spiritual classic to help you reconnect to God’s Word with fresh eyes, below are some resources that might help. Regardless if you use another book or just open the Good Book and read it for pleasure and not purpose, know that your time in God’s Word is the best tuning fork ever created.
All of These Books May Not Inspire You, But One Will
- The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
- The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
- Classic Christianity by Thomas Oden
- Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright
- The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
- The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language by Thomas A Kempis, edited by James Watkins
- Come Creator Spirit by Raniero Cantalamessa
- The Way of the Pilgrim, unknown
- A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly
Cheri Cowell is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary and her latest book is 365 Devotions for Peace (Zondervan, 2015). To learn more about Cheri visit her website www.CheriCowell.com