Church planting is a lot of fun, but also a lot of hard work. It is very easy to get wrapped up in doing things 'for' God and forfeit quality time for knowing God.
It has been almost 2.5 years since I graduated from seminary, and for a season after that I needed a break from academic rigor, beyond sermon prep and devotions (QTs). However, I've recently been convicted that I have allowed myself to become 'intellectually flabby' to an extent.
This is something that I take full responsibility for. I have no one to blame but myself. Sure, I could blame it on church planting, working several jobs, etc., but the reality is, I have allowed myself to be content with some time in the Word and that's about it. While I know that I am not loved by God because of what I do, but because of what Christ has done, I still realize it is important for me to press in to know Him more.
Also, as some of you may know, I have a strong passion to reach men with the Gospel and to train them up to be "lion-hearted and lamb-like." I started reflecting on what type of man I want our ministry to produce and then had to ask the hard question, "Am I becoming that man?" Of course, we want to produce men who are like Jesus, that goes without saying. However, I don't want to set the standard as being nice guys who are a mile-wide and an inch deep.
Last week I was privileged to sit in a small group with Tom Nelson, pastor of Denton Bible Church. He had come down to speak to the Houston Church Planting Network and took time beforehand to meet with some pastors. Tom has a strong track record of discipling men through his program called 'Young Guns' and really has a passion to make disciples. He shared how important it is to continually cultivate ones heart as a pastor and as a disciple-maker. Also, he talked about how he reads through the Bible each year by reading a chapter-a-day starting in Genesis, Psalms, and Matthew. He reads in it, marks it up, and has given a lot of them away.
One of the main things that stood out to me was his focus on the Word, Systematic Theology, and Church History. I was convicted that I had let myself become intellectually flabby and resolved to do something about this. Here's what I am striving to do, at least during the week:
- Wake up at 5:30 am (I failed at this today, 6:30)
- Read in my ESV Study Bible
- Read in Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
- Read in Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley
My ultimate goal is, starting in January, to get a few guys and meet with them Tuesday - Thursday each week from 6:00 am to 7:00 am going through the Word, Systematic Theology, and Church History. I thought that I might want to 'get back in shape' before I started leading other men through this process. I'm not sure if any men will sign up for this, but I figured that if that is ultimately qualities I want men to have (discipline, biblical fidelity, strong theology, and awareness of where we (the Church) have come from) then I might want to start living it as to not be a hypocrite. Beyond that, I realized that while I was still faithful in reading my Bible, etc., I was not near as sharp as I had been.
I covet your prayers as I strive to develop these new habits.
What steps have you taken to keep your soul fed, your mind sharp, and your pursuit of Christ consistent? Leave a comment and share.