Today I went to the Newspring Leadership Conference in Anderson, SC. I love Christian Conferences and the people you meet there. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve been to. At every single one of them there was a life challenging nugget or a word from the Lord which is good because that’s why we go to those things. There are tears of joy, tears of conviction, prayers of dedication, prayers of repentance, and the resolve to do something.
And then…we get home. The echo of that word from the Lord fades as the noise and busyness of life begins again and we jump back in the flow. Time passes until the next conference when we get rejuvenated and the Lord speaks to us again and we swear this time it will be different. But then…we get home.
I spent the summer of 1995 doing an internship at a church in England and stayed with various church families while I was there. I remember distinctly a “heated” discussion I had with one of the women about when to do a quiet time. I told her I did mine at night before bed(which was a lie) and she said that she did hers in the morning because that’s when Jesus did his. She felt we should follow his example, but I argued the change in culture and blah blah blah I was a total jerk. In the 2 years I’ve been a Senior Pastor I have kept coming back to this thought-”I am totally not cut out for this.” I have read the Bible, read books, been to conferences, listened to podcasts, been mentored, and tried to be poured into as a leader. The gnawing feeling remains that there is something I lack and the church could pay the price.
I have spoken to pastors of growing, healthy churches seeking godly counsel and wisdom and they all tell me the same thing. ”Your stage design must be stellar.” Nope. ”Your small groups must be deep and meaningful and run on a semester schedule.” Nope. ”You’ve got to be missional, attractional, congregational, healthy, contemporary, traditional, staff led, …..” Wrong again. “You, as the leader, have to get alone with God.”
Really? I’m a pretty smart guy. I’m pretty funny. I can make people laugh. I’m passionate about what we’re doing. I’m in the community. We’re giving to missions. We’re starting new Sunday School classes. We’re having lots of baptisms. Really? “You, as the leader, have to get alone with God.” That’s not very glamorous. I can’t tweet that. I can’t instagram that. How do I blog that?
And then I hear Agnes’ voice(in her British accent), and all these pastor’s voices, and the voices of all those conference speakers, and the voice of God reminding me:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.-Mark 1:35(NIV)
This is not rocket science. No, it’s much more important than that. If you’re like me you know that doing what Jesus did in the morning will make everything better. I won’t feel the stress as much which means I will yell a little less and be much nicer to my family when things aren’t all fine and dandy. It will be the foundation I need when the storm comes. It will be a stream of living water overflowing in my life. Things will make sense when nothing around me makes sense.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure you read the Bible just like I do. With cell phone nearby(or maybe even on your phone) and in no way, shape, or form in a solitary place. I’m no prophet, but could it be that the spiritual decline in the American church, in the Wesleyan church, in my church is because somewhere along the way we quit getting up in the morning to spend some time with God? I wonder how many are like me: guilty of forgetting and forsaking that nudge toward our one true love and everything we’ve been searching for in all the wrong places. WWJD? He got his rear end out of bed and spent time with God before everybody else got up.
That seems like a good place to start. Will you join me? I’ll be doing the Bible in 90 days plan on youversion and you can follow me at http://www.youversion.com/users/chaseurlion. I’d love to share and compare notes, but most importantly, share the journey. May God help us.