The last time I asked this question, I ended up with all the problems brought to the surface.
It was a simple assignment: Share what you use for personal devotions. Listening to a radio devotion? Reading a chapter of the Bible a day? Reading a meditation? Listening to a podcast? Whatever it is – what do you use?
Look, it’s not a hard concept. Those leading God’s church need to be in God’s Word. You can’t steward his people and not be listening to him. You can’t stand against the dark forces of this world unless you’re strengthened by his Word. You can’t know the lies if you don’t listen to the Truth. And you have no reason to resist sin if you don’t know the Gospel. Hearing God’s Gospel empowers God’s servants to serve.
Basically: There’s a gazillion reasons for any Christian to be regularly in God’s Word both in worship with other believers – and a gazillion more if you’re also a leader of Christians.
Basic research backs this up, too. Churches that “come back” most often have a leadership team that’s serious about being in God’s Word on their own. Daily devotions of some kind are just part of the mix. And I’m not talking about hours of mountainside retreat a day. Get some Law and Gospel; might be a five-minute video (I recommend Your Time of Grace, for instance) or a podcast or a written devotion or just sitting in God’s Word on your own.
It’s important, and should be kinda “duh” as far as the concept goes for church leadership. If you’re leading God’s people, you need to be listening to God’s Word.
Except last time I asked my council to do that… it kinda blew up. Some guys did something for a week and then let it go. Some guys really did get into God’s Word (blessings!). But one guy in particular fought back. He used a cloak of respect for God’s Word to mask his despising of it: “I don’t want to read the Bible unless a pastor is reading it to me!” And the rest of the council didn’t care that he despised God’s Word. It was… it was a whole thing. It revealed apathy toward God’s Word and a desire to just keep a building open. Yes, some there were “simply” weak… but such should not be leaders in God’s Church. Sinners? Definitely. But Church leaders need to be sinners who value God’s Word.
I’m not there any more. I’m in a new place. And I asked the question again: What do you do for personal devotions?
Like last time, I gave them a heads-up. Like last time, I offered to help them find something that worked for them if they wanted a hand or hadn’t found something that worked yet. (For instance, I read from my Bible before even getting out of bed in the morning; that’s really not going to work for someone who doesn’t do mornings!)
And today… the council spoke.
And they all used something different. One typically had ten minutes as he waited for someone to get to the car on the way to work. He read his Bible then. Another turned to a YouTube channel that just reads Scripture out loud and listens to that when he works out. Another has a devotion emailed to his phone. The guys showed creativity to get into the Word. Not everyone was in the Word regularly; two in particular confessed they had a hard time figuring out something that worked.
I will take that way more than open despising of the Word.
And once more… I’m not where I was. We are still a congregation plagued by sin. Go figure – we are still the church militant. But how sin attacks us is different here.
I told the council today that I was thankful for them. I read a passage from I Corinthians. Here, let me just put it down:
4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
I am thankful to the God who saw fit to die for sinners like me… and then not only that, but bless his church with leaders that want to hear him. I praise God for taking someone like me, even as he knows everything about be, and not cursing me to labor alone, but to set me beside men who struggle with sin but value the Gospel.
This is amazing. I am grateful. I am blessed.