not in category mode for script check
I don’t mind growing older, but I do mind growing softer. Only one of these do I have any control over. Spiritual atrophy is similar to physical atrophy in that I must fight both, or grow softer and weaker.
Atrophy doesn’t just happen to churches, it also happens to pastors and other leaders. Since the spiritual health of a pastor is intrinsically tied to the spiritual health of a church, you would be wise to fight spiritual atrophy in these four ways.
1. Refuse to grow spiritually soft
Spiritual atrophy is simply the result of spiritual apathy. When I neglect my walk with Jesus, a natural degeneration begins to set in, which is apparently what happened to the church in Ephesus:
But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5
2. Stop being OK with being OK
On the surface, the Ephesians were growing as a church in three significant ways:
This church was commended for exposing spiritual degenerates. Some believers in Ephesus had "shipwrecked their faith; or became apostates." They were a good church. They were led by good pastors/elders.
They were “ok.”
Are you ok with being ok? I don’t think the Ephesian pastors and members had completely walked away from their first love, they had simply neglected it. This is what spiritual atrophy looks like. It looks normal. It looks ok.
If you are ok with being normal, you are not ok. There is a better way to live and love.
Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12
3. Repent of spiritual abandonment
Spiritual abandonment is usually not an event. It is slow, spiritual erosion. Abandonment is passive neglect that is so subtle that it is virtually imperceptible. I have never personally experienced a spiritual shipwreck, but erosion has set in more times an I care to admit to you, or myself.
Have spiritual apathy and erosion set into your life? This is a tough question. I’m sure the Ephesian elders didn’t want to go there either.
Go there now.
Stop reading and start praying until you have heard from God.
4. Reset your schedule to reflect your priorities
Married couples often diagnose their problems as "growing apart.” That is kind way of describing their relational apathy and atrophy. I love to see a couple fighting for their marriage. If you are married, your top two relationships are with your Savior and spouse. In other words, my first love is Jesus and my second love is Janet.
Love is both. All I have to do for atrophy to set in for either relationship is...nothing. Apathy leads to atrophy every time.
Fight atrophy in your first love by making sure you are spending quality time with the people you love most, starting with Jesus. His love for you can’t grow any stronger, but your love for Him can. “Repent” by putting Him first in your life and ministry; in your schedule as well as in your heart.
When was the last time you got “good and angry” about something or someone? As LifeWay’s pastor to pastors, I don’t want to just be a safe place for pastors to vent, but a voice of encouragement to those who would rather work through their anger than to wallow in it.
Honestly, most pastors and church leaders I talk to are happy campers. Yet, it is unrealistic to believe that we will avoid conflict and criticism in our ministries. It’s gonna happen, so let’s learn to be both good and angry by revisiting what Jesus taught His Disciples in Luke 6:27-38.
1. Love Those Who Hate You
“Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you” (v. 27).
This “love” is not a generic, romantic, or even friendship kind of love. Agape love is a uniquely Christian love that is unilateral, unconditional, and very intentional. Instead of taking matters of justice in your own hands, turn the tables on your attackers by trusting God to take care of the abusers. To read the rest of this post go here.
Often, the most productive hour of my day is spent in traffic. Since moving to Nashville almost a year ago, I have had a one hour round-trip commute every day, plus several long road trips. At first my daily commute was a mixture of interesting, boring and maddening - depending on how bad the traffic was, or my mood. I hate wasting time, so I called an urgent meeting with myself, in my Jeep. On I-65 I created, then road-tested five important tasks I safely tackle in traffic.
1. WORSHIP - I don’t want or need to talk to anybody except Jesus before 7am. This week I worshipped in with Delirious; last week it was Kari Jobe. Worship is the “first and greatest” thing I do every day.
2. WRITE - I wrote the bulk of this post on the road by speaking notes into my phone. I don’t suggest using a pen and paper while you are in traffic. If you need tech help, don’t be too lazy or prideful to ask.
3. CALL - Phone calls take time and focus; especially those which require relationally energy. Any call beyond 30 minutes is too long. Use earbuds with a decent mic or some other hands-free option.
Traffic is a good place for work and personal calls you need to make. One week I decided to only call childhood friends on the way home, which was a ton of fun.
Some times I don't want to talk to anyone because I’ve literally given everything at the office, so one more conversation is one too many. Silence is sometimes gold, sometimes platinum.
4. LISTEN - I have learned so much this past year from podcasts, most of which I’ve listened to in the car or on an airplane. I always listen at 1.5x speed, unless it is Ed Stetzer or Jefferson Bethke. Podcasts I usually listen to are Rainer on Leadership, 5 Leadership Questions, Selma on Leadership, The Exchange, Carey Nieuwhof, New Churches Q&A and Happy Rant.
5. READ - Janet and I listen to books on longer trips. My boss Brad Waggoner always has a couple of books going on his playlist. Maybe that is why I work for him instead of the other way around.
Other less noble options on your commute are:
1. Lose your temper.
2. Lose your testimony.
3. Lose your joy
4. Lose your salvation. Just messing with my Baptist peeps.
I would love to hear what work for you. Happy travels!
We may not have much control over when we leave this planet, but we do have a say in how we leave, as well as the impact it will have on our families. When King Hezekiah became terminally ill, the prophet Isaiah said to him:
This is what the LORD says: “Put your affairs in order,for you are about to die” (2 Kings 20:1).
Abraham is an even better example of how to put our house in order because he didn’t have a heads-up like Hezekiah, and neither do we. I can think of at least three ways Abraham showed us how to put our houses in order:
By Updating Our Financial Affairs
Very few people can relate to the size of Abraham’s vast estate, but we all have something of value to leave our family. Sentimental value is at least as important to some people as financial value. I have too often seen friction surface during a time of grief, which is always unfortunate and usually avoidable.
A 2013 survey conducted by LifeWay Research found 37 percent of SBC pastors do not have a trust, or will of any kind. More than half (55%) of all Americans will die without a will or trust, according to the American Bar Association. Almost half do not have any life insurance for that matter.
Go here to read the rest of this post.