“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”—1 Timothy 4:16
Every once in a while, I find myself getting dull, unfocused, and swinging with an unsharpened axe. Every once in a while, I find myself colder in my heart than I should be; going through the motions of my Christian life but not really fervent in my relationship with the Lord. The Bible tells me I must “take heed” to myself. Here are some suggestions to help keep yourself sharp.
1. Read the Bible More Carefully
Take some extra time so you can read very slowly. Ask the Spirit of God to speak to your heart and teach you something. I am amazed at how often during my regular Bible reading, God will have exactly what I need for that time and period in my life.
2. Attend a Good Conference
A conference like the Spiritual Leadership Conference at Lancaster, California, a Striving Together meeting such as Dr. Paul Chappell and I hold in local churches, or others can help you hit the red “reset” button, renew your focus, and increase your vision.
3. Listen to Preaching
I think it is good to read sermons. I think it is better to hear sermons. Get some tapes or CD’s by your favorite preacher. Listen to them while you are driving on a trip or even take some time in the office and just turn them on. It still pleases God to speak to our hearts by the foolishness of preaching.
4. Get around People Who Are Eagerly and Zealously Serving God
Many pastor’s fellowships are a waste of time. We either try to impress each other with our newest suit and our fanciest sermon, or we get together and complain. However, there is great benefit in fellowship. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Find those who challenge and encourage you, and spend some time with them.
Think about how good God has been to you. Think about where you would be if He hadn’t saved you. Think about the blessings He has given you through your life and ministry. Think about the opportunities you have had to serve Him. Think about how much you once wanted to be in the ministry. Think about who God is and what He does, not just for you, but for a world full of people every day.
God didn’t rest on the seventh day of Creation because He was tired. He was trying to teach us something. While there are some who are lazy, there are many others who believe it is ungodly to ever take a day off or even take a nap. Remember that when God dealt with Elijah in his state of depression, He let him sleep, eat, and then sent him out in service.